Last swing at private health insurers

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In his last address as AMA President, Associate Professor Brian Owler took a swing at private health insurers, admitting he had ’enjoyed’ going up against them.

His speech last week included a section on the insurers, whom he accused of seeking to influence the decision making of doctors caring for patients and create a managed care system like that seen in the United States.

A/Prof Owler said medicine was not that simple and the threat of managed care was ‘’insidious”.

“For those of us who work with patients on a daily basis, we know that most cases are not straightforward,” Associate Professor Owler said.

“Most cases are complex. Patients often have co-morbidities, their own social and employment considerations and a set of personal beliefs that must all be taken into account when deciding the right course of action for them.

“We must never let private health insurers undermine our health system, whether it be by interfering with the doctor-patient relationship or by disturbing equity of access in general practice.”

He urged the AMA to continue its work on the Private Health Report Card and to defend against the actions of insurers “for whom the interests of shareholders come first and patients are a distant second,” he said.

Associate Professor Brian Owler’s two year term as President of the AMA ended on Sunday.

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