The Liberal National Government in Australia will launch a national strategy to tackle excessive out of pocket costs charged by medical specialists including by developing a website to provide Australians with transparency and an education campaign to inform patient about the costs of specialist services.
In a report published last week – Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-pocket costs – the Committee concluded that the best options to aid patients and their General Practitioners (GPs) when choosing a medical specialist in Australia would include all or some of the following elements:
- a Government funded website with Government oversight that includes information about: individual medical specialists’ costs for most common services, searchable by medical specialist and with the data populated by specialists; and the range of specialists costs for common services, searchable by specialty and geographic region, using data from existing Government sources, but noting that such data may be incomplete.
- education for consumers, GPs and medical specialists to improve understanding of out-of-pocket costs and aid in the referral process. In particular, a concerted education campaign is required to inform consumers that there is not necessarily any relationship between fees charged and the quality of medical care
In October 2017, the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced that an expert committee would be formed to provide advice on out-of-pocket costs. This was part of a wide ranging package of reforms to make private health insurance simpler and more affordable for Australians. The Committee was asked to provide advice on best practice models to make information on out-of-pocket costs charged by medical specialists more transparent, to help consumers understand out-of-pocket costs and to inform consumer choice.
- REPORT: MINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS. Australian Government Department of Health. November 2018