New health costs guide – a win for seniors

Flowing on from our advocacy on deeming rates, it is pleasing to see government and doctors acting on another of our key campaigns. At last there’s some action on spiralling out-of-pocket health costs. This is an issue you have told us is your single biggest concern.

You have also told us distressing stories of facing thousands of dollars of unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

These ‘surprises’ often arrive after an operation. Now, for the first time, patients can get an upfront quote outlining the entire cost of surgery in a private hospital and any out of pocket expenses faced.

This option and other measures are outlined in a new Informed Financial Consent guide, jointly launched by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Federal Government.

The AMA says the guide provides clear, easy to-to-understand information to help patients ask the right questions when they talk to their doctors about the fees for medical procedures.

We told them so

National Seniors told political candidates at the last election that spiralling out-of-pocket health care costs, not covered by Medicare or private health insurance and possibly costing tens of thousands of dollars, was the single biggest concern for older Australians.

The government has also announced later this year it will launch a website where medical specialists can list their fees for procedures, so patients can then tell if they are getting a good deal or not. However, participating in the website is not compulsory.

While these initiatives are welcome, we continue to call for more action to cap rising health costs and make fees more transparent, including:

  • Making it mandatory for all specialists to publish fees on a public register and ensure all GPs are aware of choice when referring to a specialist.
  • Limiting private health insurance premium increases to no more than CPI until effective reform is completed.

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