Adding cardiac ablation catheters to the Prostheses List will give patients more choice of where and when to have their procedure by accessing a private hospital, says Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Mr Michael Roff.
“The announcement means patients can now use their private health insurance to cover the procedure, which treats atrial fibrillation (arrhythimia), giving patients access to all the benefits of private hospital, from a private room, choice of doctor and importantly, choice of when they have their procedure ,” Mr Roff said.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat with symptoms ranging from palpitations, chest discomfort, dizziness and breathlessness that can lead to heart failure, stroke and other heart-related complications over time.
Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that involves placing a long, thin tube (called a catheter) into a vein in the leg and pushing it up to the heart.
When the tube reaches the heart, it scars a specific area in the heart chamber that causes the abnormal electrical impulses, thereby restoring normal heart rhythm and function.
Almost half a million Australians are impacted by atrial fibrillation.
Mr Roff said any move that gives patients more choice was welcomed.
“This may mean that someone waiting for the procedure can have it performed faster by opting to use their private health insurance in a private hospital. The move also gives patients more choice of where they have their surgery. We know patients who have had an experience of private healthcare value it and would choose to use a private hospital again,” he said.
The Federal Government's move has also been well received by the patient group heartsforhearts.
CEO and founder Tanya Hall said the group applauded the announcement that would mean patients can bypass public hospital waiting lists.
“Until now, the refusal of many health funds to cover the full expense of catheter ablation – a procedure to remedy abnormal electrical impulses and restore normal heart function – saw thousands of patients join blown-out public waiting lists, a delay which often precluded them from treatment during the narrow window of time associated with highest rates of success,” she said.