Background of the Issue
The accessibility and cost of medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remains a significant factor when it comes to reaching health equality across Australia. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) expenditure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is approximately half that of the non-Indigenous average despite the three times higher
level of illness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
In July 2010, the Closing The Gap (CTG) PBS co-payment measure was introduced by the Australian Government in response to the rate of illness disparency in the Australian population (Australian Government Department of Health, 2013). The ...view middle of the document...
Nevertheless, further research and analysis is needed to refine the proposal, identify relevant data in terms of CTP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and the criteria for assistance of Health Care and Social Work professionals.
Affects on Aboriginal people
Barnes (2008) suggests that reducing avoidable demand for GP services, particularly in areas of high demand can benefit Aboriginals with chronic illnesses by prioritising patients who most need treatment or care management. Although it is true that most Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders living with, or at risk of, chronic disease have become accustomed to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) CTG PBS co-payment measure, the issue will be with the new generation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are not yet accustomed with the consequences of the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
It will be up to the Health Care and Social Work professionals to assist in awareness of eligibility for certain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, support eligible patients to adhere to their medicine regimens and further advocate to close the gap for inequity and injustice affecting the lives of the patients.
There is an evident impact of the proposed co-payments on the GP service demand and consumer behaviour. It undermines the COAG’s initial National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes as some Indigenous Aboriginals may not meet the requirements to be eligible for the co-payments waiver and/or complications may compromise health care choices on personal cost grounds. In such circumstances, Health Care and Social Work professionals will need to work with the patients to promote policies and practices that can achieve an affordable outcome that will not impact negatively on the patient’s lives. For general patients, the proposal states that Extended Medicare Safety Net thresholds (EMSN) would not change and existing EMSN caps on GP services would be removed (Australian Centre for Health Research, 2013). This would help protect ‘non-concessional’...