Reports and publications (published elsewhere)

Indigenous health checks; a failed policy in need of scrutiny

Posted on: 17 January, 2011
Issue: Vol 11 No 1, January 2011 – March 2011
Related to Health services Northern Territory

Russell L (2010)
Indigenous health checks; a failed policy in need of scrutiny
Sydney: Menzies Centre for Health Policy

Medicare reimbursement for health checks or health assessment on Indigenous patients were introduced in 1999. Every Indigenous Australian is entitled to receive a medicare health check. In 2009-10 only 12% of the eligible Indigenous population (400 000 people) received a health check. This report also indicates that only 12.7% of children aged under 15 in the Northern Territory received a health check in 2009-10, despite the continued Northern Territory Intervention (NTER).

An added issue is that health problems identified through the health checks may not be followed up adequately or in a timely manner. The published data indicates 80% of health checks identify health problems that need follow-up or treatment.

The report suggests that immediate action is needed in the following areas:

  1. Understand barriers that general practitioners (GP’s) are facing to ensure their Indigenous patients are receiving effective care.
  2. Consult with Indigenous health providers and communities about the way services should be delivered.
  3. Implement and fund an improved program for health assessments across all age groups.
  4. Health problems found as part of the health checks are adequately addressed.
  5. Provide for independent and transparent monitoring and evaluation of the program.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

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