Medicare struggling; Australia headed towards US user-pays system
By Joe Hildebrand and Kate Sikora
The Daily Telegraph
June 03, 2009 12:01am
* Claims Australia headed towards US system
* Out of control costs to blame
* Four-day week urged for specialists
THE Australian system of free universal healthcare is set to disappear in as little as five years, prompting a radical plan for a new federal-state partnership to take control of hospitals and patient care.
It comes amid a push by the Australian Medical Association for hospital specialists to treat patients only four days a week, potentially placing further pressure on a system already hamstrung by work restrictions among emergency physicians.
In a startling warning, NSW Health director-general Debora Piccone has told The Daily Telegraph that Australia is hurtling towards a US-style user-pays system due to an ageing population and out of control costs.
"We are really on the edge of losing the universal healthcare system that this country has," she said.