Spending on Indigenous health reaches $4.6 billion

In 2010-11, 3.7% of Australia's total health expenditure, or $4.6 billion, was spent on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who make up 2.5% of the Australian population, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2010-11, shows that $4.6 billion was spent on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2010-11, equating to $7,995 per Indigenous Australian.

'For non-Indigenous Australians, $5,437 was spent per person,' said AIHW spokesperson Teresa Dickinson.

'This is an Indigenous per person ratio of 1.47-that is, $1.47 was spent per Indigenous Australian for every $1.00 spent per non-Indigenous Australian.'

This ratio was an increase from the 2008-09 figure of 1.39.

In 2010-11, publicly-provided services such as public hospital and community health services were the highest expenditure areas for the Indigenous population.

'The average per person expenditure on public hospital services for Indigenous Australians was more than double that for non-Indigenous Australians-$3,631 compared with $1,683,' Ms Dickinson said.

Conversely, for health services that have greater out-of-pocket expenses, such as pharmaceutical and dental services, Indigenous expenditure is generally lower relative to the non-Indigenous population.

'The average per person expenditure on dental services was $149 for Indigenous Australians, compared with $355 for non-Indigenous Australians,' Ms Dickinson said.

'These differences reflect different patterns of service usage.'

Most health expenditure on Indigenous Australians in 2010-11 (91.4%) was government-funded-46.6% by state and territory governments and 44.8% by the Australian Government. For non-Indigenous Australians, 68.1% of total health expenditure was government-funded.

Between 2008-09 and 2010-11, expenditure by all governments on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rose by $847 per person. This represents an average annual growth rate of 6.1%, compared with 2.6% for non-Indigenous Australians.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 28 March 2013


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