Healthcare :: Indigenous Australians find health system easier to access

Indigenous Australians are finding the health care system easier to access, according to a report issued today by the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, and the Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey.

“Improvements have been made to mainstream health programs, especially to Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in recent years and the independent study conducted by Urbis Keys Young confirms this,” Mr Abbott said.

“The health system has become easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to use. This has meant better access to health services which plays an essential part in improving the health of Indigenous Australians.”

The report also highlights the value in continuing improvements such as the provision of Indigenous health content in the formal education and training of doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

Mr Hockey said he was pleased with the study?s findings.

“The improvements to Medicare service delivery are helping to provide better health care to Indigenous people,” he said.

“I am impressed by what has been achieved since the last study conducted by Urbis Keys Young in 1997. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enrolments have substantially increased, especially in the Northern Territory where more than 95 per cent of Indigenous people are enrolled.”

Mr Hockey said these results have been achieved by a group of dedicated Medicare Liaison Officers working to take Medicare services directly to the people living in more remote areas.

He noted the Liaison Officers and a free-call Indigenous Medicare Information line can also be credited with increasing Medicare income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services.

Mr Hockey said the on-going education and training programs for health service staff will improve the accuracy of claims and ensure that staff take full advantage of Medicare benefits particularly designed for Indigenous patients and people living in remote areas.

“Despite the vast improvements made to our health system since 1997 there is still room for more improvement,” said Mr Hockey. “Medicare Australia and the Department of Health and Ageing are already implementing many of the recommendations of this latest study.”

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