How Does Healthcare Differ In Australia and the United States?

I just started writing for Jeremy and Modest Money a little over a month ago. As I’ve been reading comments and seeing traffic results, I’ve realized that Modest Money has a very large international following. Jeremy lives in Canada, and he gets the upside and downside of “free” healthcare. I live in the US and get the downside of high cost healthcare. Recently I was interacting with an Australian real estate agent and it caused me to consider this question: “How does healthcare differ in Australia and the United States?”

I decided why not explore this question, and find out who’s really getting the best benefits?

Australian Healthcare

9.1% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on healthcare and the average citizen spends $3,670 annually on it. Per 100,000 citizens a year, 378 die from disease and injury. Infant mortality is somewhat comparatively high (compared to 16 other westernized nations) at 4.5 per 1,000 live births.

(Previously I had written about an infographic on the high cost of healthcare in America, and that is where I’m getting most of these international statistics. The infographic is based on research concluded in 2013 by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine).

Public healthcare exists in Australia, under the familiar term “Medicare.” It’s purposed to allow anyone access to a public hospital with an appointed doctor at no charge. This no cost coverage extends to any necessary follow-up treatment as well.

To alleviate the weight on public healthcare, the Australian government is offering up to 40% rebates on the cost of private health insurance in Australia, if you earn under a certain income.
Here’s the catch, if you earn OVER a certain income in Australia and don’t have private health insurance, you have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge which starts at 1% for individuals making over $88,000 and increases to 1.5% for those making over $136,000. If you are earning at that level, it makes a lot of sense looking into getting private health insurance in Australia.

American Healthcare

17.6% of the US GDP is eaten up strictly in healthcare costs. The average US citizen spends $8,233 annually on healthcare as of 2012. Infant mortality is 6.7 per 1,000 live births. Obesity is absolutely rampant. American’s obesity is highest of all 1st world nations and only 2nd in the world to Mexico.

American’s are paying a high price because of obesity. The United States is, in some fields, a leader in medical research. These research companies pay big bucks to find cures (and band-aids) for people. They also want to make back their money. In a way that’s fair. In another way, if you have found the cure, shouldn’t you share it with everyone? (Ahhh Elysium!)
We also have public healthcare in the United States, and in a way, it’s universal. Just only to those under a certain income level. Hey, if you want something for free just make less money! I wish I could comment on Obamacare and how it’s going to benefit America, but the particulars of what that may or may not look like no one seems to be able to figure out! It’s already law, so I do hope it helps!

If your income is in that awkward spot of being just above the line for public healthcare, but still too low to reasonably afford coverage, then you may want to consider a few helpful alternatives. Unfortunately, a great deal of medications are offered at staggeringly high prices in America, which is why some are taking advantage of an affordable loophole: online drug stores.

The advantage of using an online drug store is that you do not need health insurance to start saving money on medication. Literally all you need is a computer and an internet connection to start ordering medication at a fraction of the price. Websites like Medicines Mexico are able to sell you medication at an even lower price if you purchase in bulk. This is helpful if you have any elderly loved ones who are unable to use a computer. You help them save a significant amount of money while they receive the assistance they deserve. At the very least, you should spend a few moments browsing through an online drug store and checking out prices. It doesn’t cost a cent to go over your options and it could prove to be immensely helpful in the long run.

Medicare patients in the US are often encumbered by red tape and long wait times to get answers. On the flipside, we do gain from the possibility of getting healthcare from private providers. Rather than having a doctor appointed to you, and having to wait in possibly extremely long lines, you can select a provider. (Which, I admit, anyone in any nation can do if they have the money).
I’ve never lived in Australia, and I’ve never waited in line to be appointed a public healthcare physician. I sure would like free healthcare as I make under $88,000 a year. But, considering I am already paying for private healthcare, I actually imagine that I would continue to pay for private healthcare if I lived in a country where it is provided for free.

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