The Grattan Institute have released a proposal to make hospital visits and surgery more cost effective. Read on….
Private health insurance premiums could be cut by up to 10 per cent if private hospitals were made more efficient and stopped over-servicing.
A handful of ‘greedy’ doctors charge their patients more than twice the official Medicare Benefits Schedule fee.
Only about 7 per cent of all in-hospital medical services are billed at this rate, yet these bills account for almost 90 per cent of all out-of-pocket costs for private hospital patients – and patients are often not told of these costs in advance.
Some doctors also charge ‘booking fees’ on top of procedure and consultation fees. These covert fees are not recoverable from private health insurance or Medicare – the patient is left to foot the bill.
The higher fees have nothing to do with the skill of the surgeon or the adequacy of the Medicare Benefits Schedule. The small minority of specialists who charged more than twice the schedule fee are simply greedy.
If these high-charging specialists had imposed fees at 50 per cent more than the schedule fee but no more, patients would have saved more than $350 million in 2018-19
Patients are in the worst position to negotiate fees with their specialist. Quaint pamphlets which encourage patients to ask their surgeons about fees shift responsibility from those who can effect change – doctors, private hospitals, insurers, and government – to those who can’t: powerless patients. How unfair! Can you imagine patients having any power to negotiate specialists fees! I recall an operation for a hernia 8 years ago. I had top private health insurance. No choice re anaesthetist, not told there was an assistant surgeon, 3 weeks post surgery given a bill for $600 for anaesthetist and $300 for the assistant. Who were these people?! And how much money does an anaesthetist need to earn!? If you calculate they were also most likely paid by medicare, my private health fund, AND by myself, and the surgery took an hour maximum, what is their daily wage!!!???