Costs Impact Access to Health Care for People with Disability
9 June 2015 at 11:18 am
Almost one-fifth of people with disability who needed to see a doctor delayed or did not go because of the cost, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The vast majority (95 per cent) of people with disability living in the community saw a general practitioner (GP) in 2012. However, the report found that almost one in five (17 per cent) delayed seeing or did not see a GP when they needed to because of cost and were more likely to visit a hospital emergency department for health issues that could potentially be dealt with by non-hospital services.
The report, Access to Health Services by Australians with Disability 2012, shows that among people with disability some 20 per cent delayed seeing, or did not see, a medical specialist when they needed to due to cost.
AIHW spokesperson Justine Boland said similar figures from the ABS for the general Australian population, show that among Australians aged 15 and over, 5 per cent delayed seeing or did not see a GP because of the cost and 8 per cent who needed to see a medical specialist delayed seeing, or did not see, a specialist due to cost.
The AIHW report showed that location was also a factor affecting access to health services by people with disability.
The report found that people with disability living in outer regional and remote areas, had lower use rates of services from GPs, medical specialists and dentists, than those people living in major cities.
“They were also more likely to visit a hospital emergency department for health issues that could potentially be dealt with by non-hospital services," Boland said.
People with disability primarily visit their GP in the first instance when accessing medical care. About 22 per cent of people with disability saw a GP for urgent care. More than half (59 per cent) saw a medical specialist, and nearly half (49 per cent) visited a dentist.
About a quarter (26 per cent) visited a hospital emergency department.
“Again, when we compare with all Australians aged 15 and over, 88 per cent saw a GP and 34 per cent saw a medical specialist and 49 per cent visited a dentist,” Boland said.
The AIHW report shows that one-third (32 per cent) of people with disability saw three or more different health professionals for the same health condition and 22 per cent received assistance for coordination of their care provided by 3 or more different health professionals.
“Of people with disability who saw three or more different health professionals for the same health condition, 16 per cent had difficulties caused by a lack of communication or coordination among different health professionals,” Boland said.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.