Action Economics illustrates unique ideas with these charts, aiming to go as far back in time as the data will allow. This is a growing collection. Charts currently illustrate:
- Australian Commonwealth Government Debt Level
- Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) – Top Items
- Medicare Rebate – Standard GP Attendance (Item 23)
- Medicare Rebate – Initial Specialist Attendance (Item 104)
- Medicare – GP Attendance Benefits per Person per Year
- Reserve Bank of Australia Gold Holdings
Australian Commonwealth Government Debt Level
Government debt levels are typically measured as a ratio of Debt to GDP (Gross Domestic Product). This assumes that the entire income of each citizen is available to pay government debt. A more realistic assumption is that a government has only its own receipts to pay its debt. Therefore, a more realistic ratio to measure the level of government debt is Net Debt to Receipts. As at June 2017, Australian Government Net Debt to Receipts was 78.6%, while Net Debt to GDP was 18.4%.
Government debt levels are also measured by Net Debt per Capita. This measure enables government debt to be compared across jurisdictions. However, not all citizens are able to contribute to the repayment of government debt. Some citizens may be children, retired, unemployed or otherwise not in the labour force. Therefore, a more realistic ratio to measure the level of government debt per person able to pay is Net Debt per Employed Person. As at June 2017, Australian Government Net Debt per Employed Person was $26,353, while Net Debt per Capita was $13,103.
Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) – Top 20 Items by Benefits Paid
For the June 2016 quarter, a total of $5,643 million in MBS benefits were paid. Benefits paid for the top 20 Medicare items amounted to $2,440 million, or 43.2% of the total.
The top 20 items (by total benefits paid) were:
- 23: GP Attendance (<20 minutes)
- 36: GP Attendance (20+ minutes)
- 116: Consultant Physician Attendance (subsequent)
- 104: Specialist Attendance (initial)
- 10991: Bulk Billing Incentive (medical service, area)
- 5020: GP Attendance (after hours, <20 minutes)
- 721: Preparation of GP Management Plan (GPMP)
- 110: Consultant Physician Attendance (initial)
- 80010: Clinical Psychologist Attendance (50+ minutes)
- 105: Specialist Attendance (subsequent)
- 10990: Bulk Billing Incentive (medical service)
- 66512: Pathology – chemical tests
- 723: Coordination of Team Care Arrangements (TCAs)
- 80110: Psychologist Attendance (focussed psychological strategies)
- 732: Review of GPMP or TCA
- 132: Consultant Physician Attendance (initial, 45+ minutes, 2+ morbidities)
- 597: GP Attendance (after hours, urgent)
- 65070: Pathology – blood tests
- 56507: Computed Tomography scan
- 10962: Podiatry
Medicare Rebate – Standard GP Attendance (Item 23)
The ‘standard’ GP attendance of less than 20 minutes is the Medicare service with the highest total benefits paid. This chart shows the average benefit paid from July 1993 to the present in current prices and constant (Dec 2016) prices. As at end June 2017, the benefit for this service was $37.05. In terms of constant prices, the highest rebate occurred in December 2005 and the lowest in September 2000. The large rise occurred in January and February 2005.
Medicare Rebate – Initial Specialist Attendance (Item 104)
The Initial Specialist Attendance is the Medicare service with the fourth highest total benefits paid. This chart shows the average benefit paid from July 1993 to the present in current prices and constant (Dec 2016) prices. As at end June 2017, the benefit for this service at 85% of the ‘fee’ was $72.75. The sawtooth pattern shows peaks each December beginning in December 2004.
Medicare – GP Attendance Benefits per Person per Year
For the calendar year of 2016, each person enrolled in Medicare received an average of $204 ($3.93 per week) for GP Attendance services. An average of $137 ($2.64 per week) of that $204 was for the ‘standard’ GP attendance of less than 20 minutes. The noticeable rise in rebates occurred in 2005.
Reserve Bank of Australia Gold Holdings
The Reserve Bank has traditionally held gold in order to fulfil promises to redeem Australian notes with gold coin on demand. However, these promises were long ago withdrawn by Commonwealth legislation. Therefore, gold holdings have become less relevant without this redemption promise.
On 3 July 1997, the Reserve Bank announced that it had “sold 167 tonnes of gold, reducing its holdings from 247 tonnes to 80 tonnes”, a reduction of two-thirds. On 21 September 2005, the Reserve Bank announced details of its program to dispose of gold coins with a gold value of about $19 million.
The Reserve Bank publishes the Australian dollar value of it gold holdings as part of its Official Reserve Assets. The Consumer Price Index has been applied below to give a sense of value adjusted for inflation.
The weight of gold holdings has been calculated from the published value of the Bank’s holdings and various gold prices, both market and official. Some of the smaller variation in holdings by weight could be due to rounding errors in these calculations or the timing of measurements, rather than changes in gold holdings.