The ‘Harley street specialist’ model of medicine does not belong in the 21st century
A new survey released today has found only half of people with private health insurance are clear about what their policy covers. Only one in four finds it easy to compare policies. One in four patients have had claims rejected by private health insurance companies. Only forty percent of people are satisfied with their private health insurance. And one in five face out of pocket expenses of at least 10% of their bill. One-third of people take out private health insurance just in order to avoid the Medicare surcharge.
Due to tax penalties for those on higher incomes without private cover, half of Australians have private health cover. The industry receives tax rebates of 6.3 billion every year.
Australia is believed to have the third highest out of pocket medical costs in the world. Stories published in every major media outlet in Australia shows private patients left with thousands of dollars in unexpected out of pocket costs from complex treatment like cancer care.
Private hospitals are allowed to hide their error rates under commercial in confidence laws, unlike any public hospitals. This removes incentives to keep standards high. Private health insurance Australia conducted a four-year study into private hospitals infection rates, but were banned from publishing the results by legal threats by private hospitals. Private doctors fees are exempt from being published.
Lack of access to qualified nursing staff, patient education, coordinated allied health services and proper discharge planning from complaints about private hospitals.
The private health industry operates with the privileges that no other commercial industry has. Is it time to bring the private health industry into the 21st Century?
Governments are caught between angry consumers left with huge bills and bad care, and a powerful and old fashion group, with links to medical business and political influences. Modern private patients expect a tech savvy, transparent and customer-service based business. What they get is sometimes an autocratic and old fashion doctor and a hospital run on a skeleton of casual nurses. Expensive meals don’t make for quality medical care. Hotel style accommodation doesn’t replace regular observations, 24-hour medical supervision, and good discharge planning.
The Consumers Health Forum have come up with a proposal for The MyCover rating system that would establish nationally standardised hospital policies, allowing consumers to compare prices and understand what they’re covered for.
The Consumers Health Forum is also calling for legislation to enforce plain language and financial disclosure people can understand what they’re buying and what the fees that private doctors and private hospitals are charging. This would be great for private patients. And bad for the profit margins of private doctors. They would have to compete on the open market, something they currently avoid. Fees would come down, as people were able to shop around and get the best quotes.
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Private health insurance policies confusing, complex and unsatisfactory, survey finds. Christine Kearney. 8th January 2016. The World Today, ABC.
Plan to get rid of junk private hospital cover. Belinda Merhab, GWN7, 8th January 2016.
Private health insurance reforms proposed as one in four have claims denied. The Age, Peter Martin, 8th January 2016.
Private health insurance policies confusing, complex and unsatisfactory
- Only half of people with private health insurence understands what their policies actually cover 50% 50%
- Only one in four people finds it easy to compaire health insurence policies 25% 25%
- One in four people have had their claimes rejected by private health insurance companies 25% 25%
- One in five people face out of pocket costs of 10% of their medical bills 20% 20%
- Only 40% of people are satisified with their private insurence cover 40% 40%
- One third of people take out private health insurence just to avoid the tax penalty 33% 33%