Health Care Accessibility
In Australia, more women than men visit a general practitioner (GP) with older women visiting GPs and hospitals more often than younger women. Women report that they prefer female doctors and only rate GP accessibility as satisfactory. In line with women living longer and being potentially less able to finance health options, women aged 79-84 are less likely than other women to have private health insurance and are more reliant on the public health system.
The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health provides information about women's access to health care:
- 34% of surveyed women aged 28-33 years had attended a GP once or twice in the previous twelve months; 30% had attended 3 or 4 times.
- 30% of surveyed women aged 79-84 years were more likely to have visited their GP 5-8 times in the past twelve months.
- 36% of surveyed women aged 79-84 years had been admitted to hospital in the past 12 months, more than double the percentage of women aged 28-33 years (less than 16%).
- Overall, women regarded the cost of doctors either ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ rather than ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.
- Women aged 53-58 were more likely than other women to have private hospital insurance (70%) and private ancillary insurance (60%).
- Women aged 79-84 were least likely to have private health insurance. The main reason women aged 28-33 and 53-58 years cited for not having private health insurance was the cost (women 79-84 were not asked).
- 62% of surveyed women aged 28-33 years said they preferred to see a female doctor, always (18%) or for certain things (44.3%).
- Women reported that access to bulk billing doctors was 'poor', but that it was easy to receive a Pap test.
- Few women knew about women’s health services or family planning centres. Those who did know said that access was ‘good’ and ‘very good’ than ‘fair’ or ‘excellent’.
Women with disabilities
- In 2002 there were 1.8 million women with disabilities in Australia.
- Women with disabilities spend more of their income on medical care and health related expenses than men with disabilities, and they are less likely than women without disabilities to receive appropriate health services.
- 41% of women with core activity restriction disabilities in Australia aged 70-75 years have never had a mammogram and 30% have never had a Pap test. 39% of women who had had a Pap test had not had regular tests.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
- Just over 7% of people who visited a GP between 2006 and 2007 were from a non-English speaking background; almost 1% identified as an Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander.
Same-sex attracted women
- Same-sex attracted (SSA) women are less likely to have regular Pap smears than heterosexual women; they access other forms of screening less frequently, delay treatment and are less likely to have a regular general practitioner (GP).
- PapScreen Victoria recognise that lesbian and SSA women require specific health information; they target SSA women as a distinct population and provide relevant health advice that includes the 'Lesbians need Pap tests too' pamphlet.