What will the federal budget mean for our health? For all the thousands of words written on this (and Crikey's Croakey blog has contributed its share), the question cannot be properly answered. Many of the budget's health impacts will result from measures outside the health portfolio, yet we in the media seem strangely happy to follow the government's lead in reporting on health as if we were a product of the Health Department.

If we are to develop some real understanding of the budget's implications for health, it would help enormously if someone (the government, researchers, media, the informed citizenry?) could do a health impact assessment. This is a tool for evaluating the positive and negative consequences for health of policies across sectors, as well as identifying unintended consequences. HIAs also consider whether policies impact differently on the health of different groups, and whether they will exacerbate or reduce health inequalities.