Saturday, 7 November 2009

Hospital balances

Australians should be reassured that their public hospital system is performing efficiently and delivering good value to the community said the Productivity Commission whose recent draft discussion paper on public and private hospitals found that on the basis of available data, the costs of providing care in the public and private systems were almost the same.

The Commission’s cost estimates suggest that, at a national level, public and private hospitals had a broadly similar cost when adjusted for the different mix of cases.

The Commission acknowledged the difficulties involved in comparing the two sectors, given their very different patient populations and mix of services provided.

The commission admits that it is almost impossible to adjust for many factors, such as the lower socio-economic status of patients in public hospitals. Other differences, such as the fact that about half of admissions to a public hospitals occur through emergency departments whereas private hospital admissions are almost all planned, are noted but their impact on overall costs is not assessed.

Given this, it is likely that the cost of public hospital treatment is even lower than that of private hospitals, when all the differences in patient populations are taken into account.

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