With the recent Federal budget in mind, and the proposed $7 co-payment to visit your GP, we wanted to find out whether Australia is the lucky country when it comes to health – or whether it’s “no country for old men.”
The premise of the co-payment was that Australians go to the doctor too much – “11 times a year on average” – so the government wanted to send a “price signal” to Australians to minimise malingering. Further investigation shows the average number of standard GP visits per person is less than 4.
When comparing Australian life expectancy with NZ, UK, Canada and the USA, we come out on top, with each of us able to look forward to 82 Melbourne Cups. Americans will bow out after 78 runs of the Super Bowl, and Brits will see the final whistle after their 81st FA Cup Final.
Australians even manage to achieve this longevity on the cheap: we spend only 8.94 per cent of our GDP on health, compared with Americans, who spend 18 per cent and are pushing up the roses four years earlier.
Despite our good fortune, 19 per cent of Australians say they “have no confidence in the healthcare system”, with the numbers being particularly high in Queensland (index 117) and Tasmania (index 159) – probably driven by local crises, such as the payroll disaster in Queensland Health in 2011 which culminated in the then premier, Anna Bligh, announcing it would be abolished.
The most common health issues
emma measures the reported frequency, in the last four weeks, of 20 types of health issue. Top of the list are headaches (47%), lower back pain, (35%) and muscle aches (also 35%). Necks, joints and shoulders round out the top 6 with 20-25 per cent each.
Diabetes is perhaps the issue to watch, coming from a low base of 2.9 per cent of Australians suffering in 2001, the rate is up to 4.2 per cent, which means there are 1 million diabetic Australians, costing the taxpayer more than $1.5 billion a year.
Australians don’t like to leave their health to chance: 84 per cent say they are taking steps now to be healthy in the future1. So what are they doing to stay healthy? And how can advertisers communicate with them?
The No.1 action Australians take to improve their health is exercise (72% of Australians 18+ have done in the last four weeks). Also on the preventative side, 32 percent use vitamins and herbal products, 31 per cent quit smoking and one in 10 do yoga or pilates.
When it comes to cures, the painkiller reigns with 42 per cent using in the last four weeks with other remedies including cough and cold medicines (16%), antihistamines (13%) and eye-drops (9%).
Health and communications
Barely a day passes without a health issue making the headlines and featuring in Early General News. We have stats for the US which show healthcare to be among the most common topics in news as a whole and a flick through Australian papers finds a similar picture.
Precisely because nearly all Australians try to be proactive about their health, they are highly engaged in health journalism and advertising. This leads to opportunities for advertisers – from governments to pharmaceutical companies and even health food companies – to raise awareness about issues, and educate Australians about solutions.
Many case studies show the power of newspaper media in the health category, and the pay-off from advertising in the most trusted medium.
A Heart Foundation ad showed the three key steps to take if you think you’re having a heart attack – and effectiveness research revealed the advertising was perceived to be convincing, believable and important. A healthy fibre message for Sultana Brand across 45 mastheads led to purchase intent of 46 per cent for the product. A Zyrtec campaign on newspaper smartphone and tablet titles, based around weather details, showed purchase intent lift 27 points.
These and many other examples demonstrate how newspaper media allow advertisers to run effective health communications in highly credible environments, including the news pages and specific sections, such as body+soul in News Corp Australia mastheads, Health in The Weekend Australian; and Mind & Body in The West Australian.
These health sections alone reach 5.6m people each month according to emma’s latest sectional readership data.
Our research reveals that if you’re going to get ill, Australia is not a bad place to be. And if you want to raise awareness of health & wellbeing solutions, newspaper media are a healthy choice for your advertising dollar.