Healthy Communities: Patients' out-of-pocket spending on Medicare services, 2016–17 - Report - How many people delayed or did not get care because of cost?

Healthy Communities: Patients' out-of-pocket spending on Medicare services, 2016–17

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How many people delayed or did not get care because of cost?

In the 2016–17 ABS Patient Experience Survey, 7.6% of people aged 15 years and over reported delaying or not having either a specialist, GP, imaging or pathology service when they needed it in the last 12 months due to cost (which represents an estimated 1.3 million people).1

Across PHN areas, people living in South Eastern NSW PHN area were almost 3 times as likely to report delaying or not having at least one of these services when needed due to cost (12.6%), compared with people in Western Sydney (4.5%) (Figure 12).1

Cost barriers to specific types of health care

While the number of Australians who delayed or did not get care when needed due to cost was highest for GPs, a larger proportion of people who needed a specialist delayed or did not get care due to cost.

Due to small numbers of responses for questions about more specific types of care, results are presented by the remoteness categories of Major cities, Inner regional and Outer regional/remote/very remote (Figure 11). These groupings do not directly correspond to the local area groupings used in earlier sections of the report. See the accompanying Technical Note for more information.

Specialists

Across Australia, 7.3% of people aged 15 and over who needed to see a medical specialist delayed or did not see a medical specialist due to cost (which represents an estimated 538,000 people). This proportion was highest for people living in Major cities (7.7%) and lowest for people in Outer regional, remote and very remote areas (5.1%).

GPs

Nationally, 4.1% of people aged 15 and over who needed to see a GP (an estimated 663,000 people) delayed or did not see a GP due to cost. This proportion was highest for people living in Inner regional areas (4.8%) and lowest for people in Major cities (3.9%).

Results for the proportion of people who delayed or did not see a GP when needed due to cost are also available by PHN area (due to larger numbers of responses). There was considerable variation across PHN areas—people living in Tasmania PHN area (7.5%) were almost 3 times as likely as those living in Central and Eastern Sydney (2.7%) to delay or not see a GP due to cost.

Diagnostic imaging and pathology

Nationally, 3.7% of people who needed an imaging test (an estimated 274,000 people) delayed or did not get one when needed due to cost. Cost was reported as a reason for delaying or not getting a pathology test for 1.3% of people who needed a pathology test (an estimated 144,200 people).

Figure 11: Percentage of people who delayed or did not seek care when needed due to cost in the last 12 months, by type of care and remoteness area, 2016–17

The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
Remoteness Area Percentage people who delayed or did not seek care when needed due to cost 95% confidence interval
Medical Specialist
Major cities 7.7% (6.9 – 8.5%)
Inner regional 6.8% (5.3 – 8.3%)
Outer regional/Remote/Very remote 5.1% (3.2 – 7.0%)
Australia 7.3% (6.5 – 8.1%)
GP
Major cities 3.9% (3.6 – 4.2%)
Inner regional 4.8% (4.1 – 5.5%)
Outer regional/Remote/Very remote 4.6% (3.4 – 5.8%)
Australia 4.1% (3.8 – 4.4%)
Imaging test
Major cities 3.7% (3.2 – 4.1%)
Inner regional 3.8% (3.0 – 4.6%)
Outer regional/Remote/Very remote 3.3% (1.9 – 4.7%)
Australia 3.7% (3.3 – 4.0%)
Pathology test
Major cities 1.2% (1.0 – 1.5%)
Inner regional 1.6% (1.1 – 2.1%)
Outer regional/Remote/Very remote 1.3% (0.7 – 2.0%)
Australia 1.3% (1.1 – 1.5%)
image of the confidence interval
95% confidence interval
Note:
Survey excludes persons aged less than 15 years, persons living in non-private dwellings and the Indigenous Community Strata (encompassing discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities). Excludes pathology and imaging tests conducted in hospital, and any dental imaging tests.
Source:
ABS, Patient Experience Survey 2016–17.

Figure 12: Percentage of people who delayed or did not see a medical specialist, GP, get an imaging test and/or get a pathology test when needed due to cost in the last 12 months, by PHN area, 2016–17

The following is a legend for the maps detailed on this page. The first row shows the various colour ranges, the second is the relevant colour's range value and the third indicates which end is highest and lowest.
NP
4.1 – 6.1
6.2 – 7.0
7.1 – 7.4
7.5 – 9.1
9.2 – 12.6
Lowest group
Highest group
The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
Primary Health Network area Percentage of people 95% confidence interval Group
Australia 7.6% (7.1 – 8.1%) Second Highest (7.5 – 9.1%)
South Eastern NSW 12.6% (9.2 – 15.9%) Highest (9.2 – 12.6%)
Australian Capital Territory 10.8% (9.0 – 12.6%) Highest (9.2 – 12.6%)
Tasmania 10.7% (9.1 – 12.4%) Highest (9.2 – 12.6%)
Brisbane South (Qld) 9.5% (7.1 – 11.9%) Highest (9.2 – 12.6%)
Hunter New England & Central Coast 9.2% (6.7 – 11.7%) Highest (9.2 – 12.6%)
South Eastern Melbourne (Vic) 9.2% (7.2 – 11.2%) Highest (9.2 – 12.6%)
Nepean Blue Mountains (NSW) 8.8% (5.4 – 12.3%) Second highest (7.5 – 9.1%)
Northern Queensland 8.3% (5.3 – 11.2%) Second highest (7.5 – 9.1%)
Darling Downs & West Moreton (Qld) 8.2% (5.8 – 10.6%) Second highest (7.5 – 9.1%)
Western NSW 8.1% (4.4 – 11.8%) Second highest (7.5 – 9.1%)
Country SA 7.5% (5.3 – 9.7%) Second highest (7.5 – 9.1%)
Perth North (WA) 7.5% (6.1 – 8.8%) Second highest (7.5 – 9.1%)
Central Qld, Wide Bay & Sunshine Coast 7.4% (5.0 – 9.7%) Middle (7.1 – 7.4%)
Western Victoria 7.3% (4.0 – 10.6%) Middle (7.1 – 7.4%)
Central & Eastern Sydney (NSW) 7.3% (5.5 – 9.0%) Middle (7.1 – 7.4%)
North Western Melbourne (Vic) 7.2% (5.6 – 8.8%) Middle (7.1 – 7.4%)
Gippsland (Vic) 7.1%# (3.2 – 11.0%) Middle (7.1 – 7.4%)
South Western Sydney (NSW) 7.1%# (3.4 – 10.8%) Middle (7.1 – 7.4%)
Brisbane North (Qld) 6.7% (5.0 – 8.5%) Second lowest (6.2 – 7.0%)
Eastern Melbourne (Vic) 6.6% (4.6 – 8.6%) Second lowest (6.2 – 7.0%)
Perth South (WA) 6.5% (4.8 – 8.2%) Second lowest (6.2 – 7.0%)
North Coast (NSW) 6.5% (4.3 – 8.6%) Second lowest (6.2 – 7.0%)
Murray (Vic & part NSW) 6.3%# (3.2 – 9.4%) Second lowest (6.2 – 7.0%)
Adelaide (SA) 6.2% (5.4 – 7.0%) Second lowest (6.2 – 7.0%)
Northern Sydney (NSW) 5.8% (3.8 – 7.8%) Lowest (4.1 – 6.1%)
Gold Coast (Qld) 5.2%# (2.1 – 8.3%) Lowest (4.1 – 6.1%)
Murrumbidgee (NSW) 4.9%# (0.6 – 9.2%) Lowest (4.1 – 6.1%)
Country WA 4.9% (2.8 – 7.0%) Lowest (4.1 – 6.1%)
Western Sydney (NSW) 4.5%# (2.3 – 6.8%) Lowest (4.1 – 6.1%)
Northern Territory 4.1% (2.7 – 5.6%) Lowest (4.1 – 6.1%)
Western Queensland NP
image of the confidence interval
95% confidence interval.
#
Interpret with caution
NP
Not available for publication
Data for Northern Territory should be interpreted with caution as the Patient Experience Survey excluded the Indigenous Community Strata, which comprises around 25% of the estimated resident population of the Northern Territory living in private dwellings.
Note:
Survey does not include persons aged less than 15 years, persons living in non-private dwellings and the Indigenous Community Strata (encompassing discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities). Excludes pathology and imaging tests conducted in hospital and any dental imaging tests.
Source:
ABS, Patient Experience Survey 2016–17.
1
Data revision: Since publication in August 2018, data for this measure have been revised.

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