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Study finds veteran health costs comparable to wider community.



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Media Release

The Hon Danna Vale MP Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Federal Member for Hughes

VA167 EMBARGOED UNTIL 11am Tuesday 17 December 2002

STUDY FINDS VETERAN HEALTH COSTS COMPARABLE TO WIDER COMMUNITY

A new study has found the cost of caring for Australia’s veterans is comparable to the rest of the community, taking into account the health needs of veterans with disabilities suffered as a result of their wartime service.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Danna Vale, today released the findings of the study, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“The study was commissioned to address a perception in some quarters that veterans’ health costs were excessive and out of line with the health needs of the veteran community,” Minister Vale said.

“What the AIHW has found is that, once you allow for the fact that veterans are, on average, older and carry a higher level of disability due to war service, their usage of health services is generally similar to the rest of the community.”

The study looked at the major components of DVA health spending, covering Local Medical Officer or GP visits, pharmaceutical and hospital services, comparing costs between Gold Card holders with the rest of the community from 1997-2000.

“The study shows a higher overall usage of GP services by Gold Card holders. This is particularly as a result of the health needs of male veterans with service-related disabilities,” Minister Vale said.

“However, male Gold Card holders who do not have a disability - such as an uninjured veteran who benefited from the extension of the Gold Card to veterans over 70 with qualifying service - visited their GP at a rate on average 9 per cent lower than that of the rest of the community.

“The pattern is similar for hospital services - higher usage by veterans with a service-related disability, while the use of services by veterans without a disability was the same or lower than the general community.”

Minister Vale said the study found higher usage of health services among female Gold Card holders who do not have a service-related disability.

“This is consistent with other AIHW data, which indicates that widows in general tend to use more health services than other women of the same age,” she said.

“Veterans’ health poses significant challenges. In the period of this study, 78 per cent of Gold Card holders were aged 70-84, compared to just 6 per cent of the wider community. That percentage is rising and can be expected to further increase demand for veterans’ health services.

“This study shows that the Government is working effectively to deliver these services at a reasonable cost, in keeping with its commitment to care for the veteran community,” the Minister said.

The complete report is available online at www.aihw.gov.au.

Media Contact: Rachael Thompson (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 265 289

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