Private psychiatry and Medicare: Regional equality of access in Australia?

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Williams, Ruth F. G and Doessel, Darrel P (2009) Private psychiatry and Medicare: Regional equality of access in Australia? Journal of Mental Health, 18 (3). pp. 242-252. ISSN 0963-8237


Background: Private psychiatric services are produced and consumed on a fee-for-service (FFS) basis in Australia. The Commonwealth Government subsidises these (and all) medical services via Medicare, a universal, comprehensive, tax-financed medical and hospital financing mechanism. A key purpose of Medicare is to improve equality of access to medical services. Aims: To measure the distribution of ‘‘access’’, as measured by utilization, to private FFS psychiatric services at a regional level; and to determine the temporal trend in equality in regional access to these services during the Medicare period. Method: Conventional measures of statistical dispersion and economic inequality (the coefficient of variation, Gini coefficient and the Atkinson measure) are applied to quarterly time-series data on quantities of private psychiatric services for Australia’s regions since 1984. Equations are modelled statistically on the distributional data generated by applying these measures. Lorenz curves are also constructed. Results: The negative sign on the slope coefficients in all estimated equations, i.e., for each measure of the distribution, is statistically significant, but the slope coefficients are nearly zero. Conclusions: These preliminary results suggest relatively intractable movement in alleviating inequality in the private psychiatric services produced and consumed in Australia, at the broad level of the region, during two decades of Medicare subsidies.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/09638230802053375
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Economics and Finance
Historical > FOR Classification > 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Historical > FOR Classification > 1402 Applied Economics
Historical > SEO Classification > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health)
Keywords ResPubID17296, access, psychiatric services, distribution, Australia, Medicare
Citations in Scopus 3 - View on Scopus
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