The Federal Government plans to investigate unexpected fees faced by patients and has created a new expert committee to examine the issue.
The Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) will be represented on the committee that will look at out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, and seek more transparency in charges so consumers can better choose where to have treatment.
APHA CEO Mr Michael Roff said out-of-pocket charges to patients impacts the affordability and access to healthcare, influencing consumer perceptions of value.
“Charging medical gaps is a matter between consumers, their treating specialist doctors, diagnostic providers and private health insurer. However, we encourage transparency to enable consumers to have informed financial consent,” he said.
As part of its reforms into private health insurance announced in October 2017, the government is acting on concerns that some medical specialists are charging large fees not covered by policies, and that patients are often unaware of the total costs at the time of referral by general practitioners.
“For some patients, these fees can cause financial hardship,” Minister for Health Greg Hunt said. “Medical colleges, private health insurance funds and consumer groups have all expressed concern about these cases.”
The committee will be led by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, and will have representatives from across the health industry including the Consumers Health Forum, the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, the Australian Medical Association and the private health insurance industry.