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December 25, 1996

Swapping Health Care SystemsWhose Grass Is Really Greener?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, North Eastern Health Care Network, University of Melbourne, Heidelbert, Victoria, Australia (Drs Johnston and Stanford).

JAMA. 1996;276(24):1986-1987. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540240064034

By international comparisons, Australians enjoy good health and have health services with access and equity at reasonable cost.1 During the past 2 decades, longevity has increased significantly, deaths from cardiovascular disease have declined, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic has been relatively contained in this country. Some proponents believe the Australian health system combines the best features of the systems in the United States and the United Kingdom. Critics harp that it has the worst of both systems. Unfortunately, health has become a political issue, not just an issue of well-being, and as a result there are constant changes and attempts by all levels of government to limit costs.

See also p 1944.

Australia's health care system is pluralistic, involving both the commonwealth (federal) and state governments, private and public medicine and hospitals, and medical insurance companies. The basic underlying principle is universal health coverage for the entire