Word count: 1500 words (+/-10%)
This assignment requires you to write an individual report comparing the health care system of Australia with another health care system of your choice (I choose UK) You may choose any other national health care system in the world, including those that are used as case studies in weeks 10-12, but you are required to do additional research beyond what is presented in the lecture notes.
The report should focus on differences and similarities of approaches to health care between the two countries and the strengths and weaknesses of each system should be clearly outlined.
Students may choose to focus on the overall goals, structure and function of each health system, or may choose a particular aspect to compare, corresponding to one of the topics covered in weeks 3-7, for example:
- Health insurance
- Rural health services
- Public hospitals
- Private sector health service provision
- Primary health care
- Rural health
- The health workforce
- Complementary and alternative medicine
Your report should be written in formal, standard academic language. It should have an introduction and conclusion. Appropriate subheadings can be used to facilitate reading. Reports should develop and clearly delineate an argument that is supported with evidence taken from the literature.
Suggested starting points:
Below are some suggestions for questions to ask yourself about each of the topics listed above, to get you started. It is not mandatory to address all of these questions; they are provided to help focus your thinking and research. The specifics of what your assignment will need to cover depends on the countries you have chosen to compare, and on the literature that is available.
Overall comparison: You may choose to use one or more of the frameworks discussed in Week 1 for describing the key features of the health care systems, e.g. the WHO health system building blocks.
Health insurance:What types of health insurance schemes exist in the countries you are comparing? Are they public, private, or a mixture? How is health insurance funded in each country? What does health insurance cover and what sorts of out-of-pocket costs do people have to pay if they get sick? What percentage of the population has access to health insurance? How do the health insurance schemes of these two countries compare in terms of principles such as access, equity, and choice? What impact do health insurance arrangements have on the health outcomes for these countries?
Rural health services:To what extent are there inequalities in health, and in access to health services, in each country? Does this differ amongst population groups (for example, Indigenous people) between the two countries? What kinds of structural approaches are taken to address inequalities or issues with rural health? What challenges does each country experience in trying to correct these inequalities? What types of programs or initiatives have been introduced to provide better rural health services? How effective have these been?
Public hospitals:Does each of the countries you are comparing provide publicly-funded hospital care? If so, how is it funded? What services are covered? Who has access to it? How does the quality and safety of public hospital care compare with private hospital care in each country? What is the role of government or other bodies in the financing and management of public hospitals?
Private sector health service provision: What types of health services are provided by the private sector in each country (e.g. hospitals, general practitioner consultations, medical specialists, allied health services). How are these services funded, and to what extent are governments involved in regulating them? How do private health services compare with publicly-funded health services in these countries? What are the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of having these services privately provided?
Primary health care:What is the overall approach to, or philosophy of, primary health care in each country (e.g. comprehensive/selective)? To what extent are the principles of Alma Ata reflected in each country’s primary health care sector? What types of primary health care services are provided? How are they organized and funded? How does primary health care in each country compare in terms of quality, equity and access?
The health workforce:Who makes up the health workforce in each country? How is it organized and regulated? What challenges does each country experience in balancing health workforce supply and demand? What approaches have been used to try to ensure an adequate and sustainable health workforce? How successful have these strategies been?
Pharmaceuticals: How much does each country spend on pharmaceuticals? Where does this money come from (e.g. government subsidies, private health insurance, out of pocket costs)? How are pharmaceuticals regulated in these countries? What does each country do to make pharmaceuticals more affordable? Are pharmaceuticals subsidized and if so, what sort of patient co-payments need to be made? What else is done to contain costs and provide access to pharmaceuticals to those who need them? How do the two countries compare in terms of pharmaceutical expenditure, affordability, access and equity?
Complementary and alternative medicine:What types of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are used in each country and how central are they to each health care system? How is CAM funded and regulated? How well recognized and supported is CAM? Is there a difference in the population groups who make use of CAM? If yes, why might that be the case? Is sufficient funding provided for research into CAM? Are CAM practitioners sufficiently well-regulated so that patients can be assured of the quality and safety of CAM services and products?
In the “Resources for Assignments” section in LMS you will find links to some major reports and websites that contain useful information. You should also draw on the prescribed textbook and the other learning resources listed on page 4 of your subject learning guide, along with the recommended readings for the topic you are addressing in your report. Students will be expected to do additional research beyond the references provided. Don’t forget to search the library databases!
References used should be academic in nature but government documents and statistics may be used. Consumer information/websites, lecture notes and school texts are NOT acceptable reference material.
- Give your assignment a title page that includes:
- A descriptive title that identifies the countries you are comparing and the part of the health system you are comparing where relevant (e.g. A Comparison of health insurance in Australia and the United Statesor A Comparison of rural health services in Australia and Canada);