What’s needed

 

A systematic approach to health care for Australians that:

  • Delivers appropriate levels of funding to support the best individual care, when and where it is needed.
  • Addresses the health gaps in Australia, providing a fair go for those who need it the most.
  • Empowers consumers within a responsive and strong health system that puts individuals at the centre of care.

 

Problem

 

Chronic disease is the leading cause of poor health and costs the health system billions of dollars each year.

  • Low levels of physical activity are a major risk factor for ill health.
  • Around 50% of Australians are insufficiently active.
  • Less than 1% of at-risk Australians are referred for exercise interventions.

 

The current Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) does not provide sufficient access to exercise interventions to effectively prevent and/or manage chronic disease.

  • Eligible Australian residents can access exercise interventions through the Medicare Chronic Disease Management program (CDM).
  • Current restrictions within the CDM program are:
    • Australians can only access a maximum of five allied health services per year.
    • Allied health services are only funded for the management of existing chronic conditions, not for preventative care.
    • Telehealth services are not recognised or supported.
  • Despite the overwhelming strength of evidence underpinning the effectiveness of accredited exercise physiology interventions for the prevention and management of chronic disease, clinical exercise interventions are still not part of routine care.

 

Cost of inaction

  • Physical inactivity costs USD$67.5 billion ($AUD90 billion) globally each year.
  • Physical inactivity cost to the Australian economy is estimated to be AUD$805 million.
  • Physical inactivity causes 1.9 million deaths each year.

 

Solution

 

  • Prevention is cheaper than management. The MBS patient eligibility criteria should be expanded to subsidise preventative services for Australians.
  • A fair go is needed for those who need it the most. Increasing access to CDM services for disadvantaged people will reduce long-term health costs and help restore quality of life. Specifically:
    • Increase the number of services allocated to accredited exercise physiology.
    • Introduce item numbers to allow Australians access to accredited exercise physiologist services via telehealth.