Spiralling out-of-pocket health care costs are the biggest concern of older Australians.
National Seniors is calling for reforms that put a brake on rising health care costs and help older Australians retain health insurance and access the best possible medical services.
A major worry is the amount of money people are paying out of their own pockets for services and procedures not reimbursed by Medicare or private health insurance.
Unless you go to a public hospital or are bulk-billed by the GP or specialist, you will have to pay the ‘gap’ costs. These are the fees charged, minus the Medicare rebate benefit and whatever your health fund is willing to cover.
Gap charges are a major contributor to rising out-of-pocket costs. People on low fixed incomes are particularly hard hit and may put off medical treatment or cut back on their private health cover.
Out-of-pocket costs continue to grow as doctors’ fees rise faster than the Medicare rebate. Skyrocketing private health insurance premiums and growing lists of treatment exclusions also contribute to the declining affordability of health care.
This situation is made worse by a lack of transparency in the health sector. Private health insurance policies can be confusing and difficult to compare. Also, comparing specialist fees and services is almost impossible for most consumers.
Fees for in-hospital care and procedures plus overcharging by specialists further increase out-of-pocket costs.
Patients’ bills may include costs for multiple doctors, including surgeons, anaesthetists, pathologists and radiologists. The total cost of in-hospital treatments may not become clear until months afterwards.
According to a survey of 6000 National Seniors members, seniors want reduced out-of-pocket specialists’ fees, cheaper private health insurance premiums, increased funding for public hospitals, and more services covered by Medicare.
Join our campaign to cut health costs and tell doctors, insurers and the government what you want.
You can also help by becoming a National Seniors member.