Understanding our health care system
What is Medicare?
Since 1984, a universal health system has been provided in Australia by the Commonwealth Government, known as Medicare.
Medicare is the primary funder of health care in the country. It has three distinct parts: hospital, medical and pharmaceutical.
Medicare provides the following for citizens and most permanent residents in Australia:
- Hospital: free treatment in all public hospitals
- Medical: refunds for those professional health services which are listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule
- Pharmaceutical: subsidies for all prescription medicines which fall under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
What are the types of health care?
Primary health care
For most patients, a primary care clinician will be their first point of contact in the Australian health system. A primary care clinician may be a doctor, dentist, nurse, allied health professional or a pharmacist. This level of care may be provided in a general practice, community or allied health centre or Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Services. It may also include health promotion, health education or prevention. Depending on the person’s health condition, they may be referred on to secondary or tertiary care.
Secondary health care
Health services provided by medical specialists and other health professionals who do not have first contact with patients are considered providers of secondary care. This includes ‘acute care’ which is considered short-term treatment of a serious injury or period of illness, usually relatively urgent. Secondary health care can also refer to ongoing services not necessarily provided in the hospital, such as psychiatrists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
Tertiary health care
Highly specialised health care, often for inpatients and on referral from a primary or secondary health professional, is considered tertiary care. This often includes particularly complex medical or surgical procedures.
Department of Health, Victoria, Australia
This is a direct link to the section of The Victorian Department of Health's website covering consumer participation. Links to the "Doing it with us not for us" strategic direction and related resources can be found here.
Victorian Health Plan
The Victorian Health Plan is Victoria's plan for a healthier future. The plan reflects the government's commitment to delivering the best healthcare outcomes possible and ensuring people are as healthy as they can be. The foundation of the Victorian Health Plan is the Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012–2022.
Medicare is the primary funder of health care in Australia.
Medicare benefits schedule
The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is a Department of Health publication which is also updated regularly and maintained by the Department.
Pharmaceutical benefits scheme
This website contains information on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme including details of the medicines subsidised by the Australian Government as well as information for consumers, carers, health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry. The PBS is part of Australia’s broader National Medicines Policy.
Consumers Step Up program
A network of health consumers contributing their experience and knowledge to health care improvements.Find out more
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