Health round-up: Medicare subsidies, diabetes and mental health days

Richard Laycock 2 November 2017

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A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

The government announces Medicare subsidy for 33 treatments

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that Australians will benefit from Medicare subsidies for 33 treatments for illnesses such as breast cancer, epilepsy, stroke, heart disease, liver tumours and lymphoma from 1 November 2017.

These subsidies should help thousands of Australians find affordable treatment for life-threatening ailments.

Treatments being subsidised include microwave tissue ablation, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, transcatheter aortic valve implants and vagus nerve stimulation therapy.

The items to be subsidised are based on recommendations from the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

Diabetes doubles your chance of death

Australians with diabetes are twice as likely to die as those without, according to the latest research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The AIHW report, Death among people with diabetes in Australia, found a disparity in the number of deaths for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

"We found that overall death rates among people with diabetes were almost twice as high as the general population," AIHW spokesperson Dr Lynelle Moon said in a statement.

The report, which looked at the deaths of 156,000 Australians with diabetes between 2009 and 2014, made the grim discovery that the gap in death rates between the general population and those with type 2 diabetes is widening.

"Overall in Australia, there is a trend toward lower death rates, but for people with type 2 diabetes, these improvements have not been seen. In fact, death rates among people with type 2 diabetes increased by 10% between 2009 and 2014, mainly driven by the increase among the very old (85 and over)," Dr Moon said.

Aussies take almost four million mental health days

Almost one-third of Australians (31%) took a sick day for mental health or stress in the last year, according to the latest research from finder.com.au.

That equates to 3.74 million days of lost productivity for Aussie businesses.

Generation Y were the most likely to take a sick day for mental health or stress reasons, with 44% saying they'd taken a mental health day in the last year.

On the flipside were baby boomers, with only 11% taking a day off work for mental health reasons.

What else is happening?

Almost one in five Australian women has experienced an unintended pregnancy, according to Galaxy Research commissioned by MSD Australia.

The research, which looked at 1,000 women aged 18 to 27, found that those between the ages of 22 and 27 were the most likely (one in four) to have experienced an unintentional pregnancy.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

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