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National health expenditure in Australia FY 2009-2018

Australia has some of the best health outcomes in the world with low infant mortality rates and a high life expectancy, even compared with other developed countries. Over 10 percent of Australia’s GDP is spent on health, which amounted to 185.4 billion Australian dollars in 2018. Australia’s spending on health also includes the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which subsidizes the cost of essential medicines and Medicare, Australia’s universal public health insurance.

Medicare, Australia’s universal health care

Introduced in 1984, Medicare is a federal government health care scheme that fully funds or subsidizes medical services, public hospital care, and selected medicines for Australian residents. In 2019, 24.4 billion Australian dollars were spent on Medicare benefit payments including over 8 billion Australian dollars on subsidized medications thought the associated PBS. Despite universal access to public health insurance, Australians are still concerned about additional health care costs. A significant proportion of Australians still choose to insure themselves privately, with a 2018 survey finding that around 70 percent felt it was necessary to ensure that large medical costs could be covered.

Public hospital care

The Australian public hospital funding represents the largest component of health spending and is administered through the state and territory governments. In 2018, public hospital care saw the second largest increase in overall health expenditure at a rate of 7.8 percent on the previous year. Public hospitals usually offer a comprehensive range of services and are generally more widely accessible than private hospital care but despite the relatively high quality of public hospital care, wait times for certain treatments can be long and some Australians choose private hospital care for certain elective surgeries and more choice over their health care professionals.

National health expenditure in Australia from financial year 2008 to 2018

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Release date

September 2019



Survey time period

financial years 2009 to 2018

Supplementary notes

Australia's financial year runs from July 1 to June 30; for example, financial year 2017 starts on July 1, 2016 and ends on June 30, 2017.

Note: Figures are constant prices expressed in terms of financial year 2018 prices.

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