Australians living longer, but 50% have a chronic illness

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The latest snapshot of Australia’s health has been released and it shows the average Aussie is living longer, but managing more chronic conditions.

Self-reported ‘excellent to good’ health in the report was as high as 85%, but 50% had at least one chronic health condition.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) biannual Australia’s health 2016 publication brings together statistics the Institute has collated over the previous two years to update the country on progress in health outcomes and care.

Releasing the report, AIHW Director and CEO Barry Sandison said Australian’s health was directly related to their socio-economic status.
“As a general rule, every step up the socio-economic ladder is accompanied by an increase in health.

“Compared with people living in the highest socioeconomic areas, people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas generally live about three years less, are 1.6 times as likely to have more than one chronic health condition, and are three times as likely to smoke daily,” he said.

He said there were still significant numbers of Australians who smoke (13%), drink alcohol at risky levels (18%) and do not eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables (95%).

Launching the report Health Minister Sussan Ley said that despite plenty of good news on health, managing chronic conditions and their impact on Australia’s health system remained one of our greatest health challenges.

“The report shows that half of Australians have a chronic disease – such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes or a mental health disorder – and one-in four have two or more of these conditions.

“This is why our initial investment of almost $120 million in the Health Care Homes initiative is so important. It will help to keep those with chronic conditions healthier and out of hospital. It will give GPs the flexibility and tools they need to design individual care plans for patients with chronic conditions and coordinate care services to support them.

The report also examined health expenditure. There was $155 billion spent on health in 2013-2014, $145 billon on recurrent expenditure. This includes recurrent expenditure of 40% on hospitals, 38% on primary health care and 22% on other health goods and services,” she said.

This report also examined how spending by age for people admitted to hospital has changed over time.

The largest increase in spending between 2004-2005 and 2012-2013 was for Australians aged 50 and over.

Private hospitals care for about 4 million Australians every year and perform 67% of elective surgery (2013-2014).

The report also showed private hospitals growing at a faster rate than public hospitals, increasing bed numbers by 2.7% per year since 2009-2010 compared to 0.7%. Private hospitals are also increasing their rate of days of patient care faster than public hospitals – 2.3% increase since 2009-2010 compared to 1.0%.

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