1 in 6 women can’t afford healthcare when needed, feel discrimination

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

‘An alarming 1 in 6 women in Australia say they cannot afford to see a health professional when they need one—and the same proportion experience discrimination when doing so’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht.

Dr Thurecht was commenting on today’s release by the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health organisation of its annual National Women’s Health Survey for 2019.

‘Over 10,000 women were interviewed for the survey, covering all states and territories.

‘Women aged 18–35 found it hardest to afford a health professional—comprising about 1 in 5 in this age group,’, Dr Thurecht said.

‘There was quite a gap between the rich and not-so-rich. People who said they were “living comfortably” almost universally could see a health professional whenever they needed to.

‘For people who said they were “just getting by”, around 40% could not afford to see a health professional.

‘For people who declared they were “finding it very difficult”, a staggering 80% said they could not afford to see a health professional when they needed one.’

‘Around 16% of the total number of women surveyed felt they experienced discrimination in accessing healthcare—but this appeared to improve with age from 20% in the younger age groups to 9% for the oldest (80+) women’, Dr Thurecht said.

‘For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the proportion who felt discriminated against was around 35% compared with 16% for non-Indigenous women.’

‘These figures, which are about access to needed care, are very disappointing.

‘On the one hand this is yet more evidence of a problem with the level of out-of-pocket costs incurred by people seeking timely access to healthcare’, Dr Thurecht said.

‘On the other hand, a sizeable proportion, and in the case of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, over one-third, experience discrimination when accessing that care.

‘These two factors—affordability and discrimination—do not predispose people to seek the care they need.’

Other findings from the survey included:

  • 3–4 out of every 10 women reported having had anxiety or depression
  • 4 in 10 said they felt nervous, anxious or on edge at least every week
  • a surprising 40% of women aged 18–35 had feelings of loneliness every week—the worst of any age group
  • 43% of women had experienced anaemia.

The Jean Hailes National Women’s Health Survey 2019 is available  is available here.

More information on AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries:  Dr Linc Thurecht, A/Chief Executive, AHHA

0401 393 729