Accessible and affordable healthcare? Views of Australians with and without chronic conditions

Yvonne Zurynski*, James Ansell, Louise A. Ellis, Chiara Pomare, Joanna Holt, Jo Root, James Gillespie, Leanne Wells, Jeffrey Braithwaite, Carolynn L. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
151 Downloads (Pure)


Background: With 50% of Australians having chronic disease, health consumer views are an important barometer of the “health” of the healthcare system for system improvement and sustainability.

Aims: To describe the views of Australian health consumers with and without chronic conditions when accessing healthcare.

Methods: A survey of a representative sample of 1,024 Australians aged over 18 years, distributed electronically and incorporating standardised questions and questions co‐designed with consumers.

Results: Respondents were aged 18–88 years (432 males, 592 females) representing all states and territories, and rural and urban locations. General practices (84.6%), pharmacies (62.1%) and public hospitals (32.9%) were the most frequently accessed services. Most care was received through face‐to‐face consultations; only 16.5% of respondents accessed care via telehealth. The 605 (59.0%) respondents with chronic conditions were less likely to have private health insurance (50.3% vs 57.9%), more likely to skip doses of prescribed medicines (53.6% vs 28.6%), and miss appointments with doctors (15.3% vs 10.1%) or dentists (52.8% vs 40.4%) because of cost. Among 480 respondents without private health insurance unaffordability (73.5%) or poor value for money (35.3%) were the most common reasons. Most respondents (87.7%) were confident that they would receive high‐quality and safe care. However, only 57% of people with chronic conditions were confident that they could afford needed healthcare compared with 71.3% without.

Conclusions: Health consumers, especially those with chronic conditions, identified significant cost barriers to access of healthcare. Equitable access to healthcare must be at the centre of health reform.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1060-1067
Number of pages8
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number7
Early online date22 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Population health
  • Health services
  • Chronic disease
  • Affordability
  • Equity of access


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