Private health insurance and quality of life: perspectives of older Australians with multiple chronic conditions
ABSTRACT A qualitative study was conducted to explore in-depth issues relating to the health costs of chronic illness as identified in a previous study. A key theme that emerged from interviews carried out was the benefits and challenges of private health insurance (PHI) membership, and choices older Australians with multimorbidity make in accessing health services, with and without PHI. This is the focus of this paper. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 40 older people with multiple chronic conditions. Data were analysed using content analysis. Key motivators for maintaining PHI included: fear of an inability to access timely health care; the opportunity to exercise choice in service provider; a belief of being 'better off' both medically and financially, which was often ill-founded; and the core values of self reliance and independence. Most described financial pressure caused by rising PHI premiums as well as other out-of-pocket health related expenses. Many older people who can ill afford PHI still struggle to maintain it, potentially at the cost of their quality of life, based on beliefs about costs of health care that they have never properly assessed. The findings highlight the degree to which people whose resources are constrained are prepared to go to maintain access to private hospital care. Attention should be given to assisting older people to make informed and valid choices of health insurance derived from the facts, rather than being based on fear and assumptions.
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ABSTRACT: Between 1997 and 2000 the Australian government introduced three policy reforms that aimed to increase private health insurance coverage and reduce public hospital demand. The first provided income-based tax incentives; the second gave an across-the-board 30% premium subsidy; and the third introduced selective age-based premium increases for those enrolling after a deadline. Together the reforms increased enrolment by 50% and reduced the average age of enrollees. The deadline appeared to induce consumers to enroll now rather than delay. We estimate a model of individual insurance decisions and examine the effects of the reforms on the age and income distribution of those with private cover. We interpret the major driver of the increased enrollment as a response to a deadline and an advertising blitz, rather than a pure price response.International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics 07/2008; 8(4):257-77. DOI:10.1007/s10754-008-9040-4 · 0.49 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Chronic illness and disability can have damaging, even catastrophic, socioeconomic effects on individuals and their households. We examined the experiences of people affected by chronic heart failure, complicated diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to inform patient centred policy development. This paper provides a first level, qualitative understanding of the economic impact of chronic illness. Interviews were conducted with patients aged between 45 and 85 years who had one or more of the index conditions and family carers from the Australian Capital Territory and Western Sydney, Australia (n = 66). Content analysis guided the interpretation of data. The affordability of medical treatments and care required to manage illness were identified as the key aspects of economic hardship, which compromised patients' capacity to proactively engage in self-management and risk reduction behaviours. Factors exacerbating hardship included ineligibility for government support, co-morbidity, health service flexibility, and health literacy. Participants who were on multiple medications, from culturally and linguistically diverse or Indigenous backgrounds, and/or not in paid employment, experienced economic hardship more harshly and their management of chronic illness was jeopardised as a consequence. Economic hardship was felt among not only those ineligible for government financial supports but also those receiving subsidies that were insufficient to meet the costs of managing long-term illness over and above necessary daily living expenses. This research provides insights into the economic stressors associated with managing chronic illness, demonstrating that economic hardship requires households to make difficult decisions between care and basic living expenses. These decisions may cause less than optimal health outcomes and increased costs to the health system. The findings support the necessity of a critical analysis of health, social and welfare policies to identify cross-sectoral strategies to alleviate such hardship and improve the affordability of managing chronic conditions. In a climate of global economic instability, research into the economic impact of chronic illness on individuals' health and well-being and their disease management capacity, such as this study, provides timely evidence to inform policy development.BMC Health Services Research 10/2009; 9:182. DOI:10.1186/1472-6963-9-182 · 1.66 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The large baby boomer cohort is beginning to reach retirement age. This paper reviews recent Australian literature on baby boomers' health and health behaviours. Databases were searched for peer-reviewed literature and the Internet for online studies and reports. The boomers can expect an increased life span compared to those in later life now. Boomers' health behavioural risks include physical inactivity, low vegetable consumption, obesity and rising medical risk due to increasing prevalence of diabetes. Their health will impact on workforce participation and retirement timing. There is substantial scope for health improvement and consequent quality of life as boomers age. However, little is known about health decision-making, inequalities between social groups and health information sources. Future research can yield a better understanding of the health trajectories of baby boomers in order to plan for health and service needs for an ageing Australia.Australasian Journal on Ageing 03/2010; 29(1):8-13. DOI:10.1111/j.1741-6612.2010.00412.x · 1.12 Impact Factor