Updated healthcare variation atlas

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The 'Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation' has revealed new information on how having private health insurance can impact patient access to health care and outcomes.

The report has been published by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

The Commission was established in 2006 by the Australian, state and territory governments, to lead and coordinate national improvements in safety and quality in health care.

The report assesses the variability in access to health care across Australia.

"Variation can be a sign that some people are missing out on the care they need or are not receiving appropriate care. The Atlas shows underuse of evidence-based care and overuse of inappropriate care," says the report.

A key finding is that having private health insurance significantly reduces waiting time between presenting to a doctor and having a diagnosis of bowel cancer.

The report attributes this outcome to higher rates of colonoscopy in some areas, and faster diagnosis, to higher rates of private health insurance.

It then attributes the lower rate of rate of colonoscopy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to lower rates of private health insurance.

"Lower rates of private health insurance may also contribute to the lower, as well as poorer access to effective and culturally safe primary health care and specialist care," it says.

It makes similar findings in relation to gastroscopy and thyroidectomy.