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Out of pocket health care an additional pain

The thousands of Australians who have faced high out of pocket medical bills now have a chance to make a difference by sharing their story by completing the Consumer Health Forum’s (CHF) Out of Pocket Pain survey.

The survey results will assist CHF to illustrate the extent of the problem, allow them to highlight the hardships now confronting many patients and their families, and to shape solutions to this health policy dilemma.

“Now is an ideal time for people to have their voice heard on this vital issue and relayed to the Government,” Consumer Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells said.

“Many Australians experience an added setback when they undergo medical treatment with many receiving large bills that are not covered by either Medicare or private health insurance if they are insured.”

“In recent weeks the fresh revelations of these high out of pocket costs, whether they be gap medical bills for a specialist consultation outside hospital or for a procedure performed in hospital, have underlined the costs issues that are eroding access to health care in Australia.”

“Australia has prided itself on the performance of our health system, its universality and its unique public-private mix. We fear we are getting close to the point where we can no longer make that claim. Increasingly people are choosing public hospital care to avoid the out of pocket costs billed by specialists in private hospitals. This is causing strains in both public and private care.”

Ms Wells said nearly half of the respondents 45 years and over to a major national coordination of health care study said that the cost of the appointment was a reason they did not see a specialist doctor when they felt this was needed.

“Shining more light on this issue and introducing greater transparency so patients can make choices based on both fees and the performance record of specialists is long overdue,” she said.

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