New modelling reveals negative impact of GP co-payment

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) says that research findings published today on the impact of the proposed GP co-payment on emergency department waiting times highlight the major problems associated with co-payments and the need for the Commonwealth Government to ensure health policy is based on sound evidence.  The research presented in the online newsletter, The Conversation, found that the scheme could increase average emergency department visit length by between six minutes and almost three hours.

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said that the impact of the co-payment, which is scheduled to start on 1 July 2015, needs to be properly investigated before the legislation passes through the Senate.

“The information released by collaborating authors from several universities is the type of modelling that the government should have already undertaken,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“It shows that the GP co-payment will have a significant impact on waiting times, admissions and treatment, as it leads to more patients seeking free hospital care instead of paying to see a general practitioner.”

“The modelling found that, as patient demand grows without additional resources, small increases soon turn into dramatic spikes in waiting times”  

Ms Verhoeven said that the findings reflected the advice provided by hospital executives and state health departments around the country.

“We know that our emergency departments are already stretched,” Ms Verhoeven said.  “There is widespread agreement that the co-payment, as it is currently proposed, would only add to the burden faced by these vital services.

“As the AHHA outlines in this month’s edition of our academic journal, the Australian Health Review, public hospitals are working hard to overcome overcrowding issues—by improving capacity management systems, streamlining services and increasing hospital-wide collaboration.

“However, these efforts will be undermined by the co-payment, and will result in longer waits for patients.”

The AHHA represents Australia’s largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

For more information, visit www.ahha.asn.au.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501