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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Australian patients demand greater transparency on surgeon’s fees

Health Industry Hub | August 10, 2020 |

MedTech News: The Australian Patients Association (APA) has called for an urgent review of the Federal Government’s ‘Medical Costs Finder’ website saying it has failed to reduce or prevent surgeon and specialist over-charging and out-of-pocket bill shock.

APA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mason said out of pocket fees being charged by surgeons continues to be one of the top two patient complaints received by the Association.

“The Government’s ‘Medical Costs Finder’ website, in theory is a good start in helping patients be aware that surgeons and specialists charge different fees for the same procedure,” Mr Mason said.

“However, the ‘Medical Costs Finder’ website still lacks the finer details patients need to determine whether they are being over-charged and what their “out-of-pocket costs” will be.

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Mr Mason said over the past decade, the amount of calls the APA has received from patients complaining about excessive, hidden or unexplained specialist’s fees when they are leaving hospital, has increased and he sees this trend continuing unless greater transparency is introduced and individual pre-surgery quotes are introduced across the board.

“While we understand the site will eventually include the fees that some specialists charge, the APA believes patients are being short changed and being left unable to make informed financial decisions ahead of much needed surgery,” Mr Mason said.

“We’ve long held the belief that prior to surgery taking place, a privately insured patient should receive two quotes from the total cost of their surgery from their health insurer. For public patients without health insurance but wanting to choose their surgeon, they should be able to also receive two quotes for out of pocket hospital fees via the ‘Medical Costs Finder’ website.”

“In this day and age, you can compare the cost of any consumer product or service quickly and online. Out of pocket surgery fees should be no different.

He said any quote from surgeons and specialists provided to a patient prior to surgery taking place should at the very least, list the average cost for the operation, as well as the Medicare schedule fee (if applicable), to enable patients to compare the quote they receive and make an informed decision.

“Some Private Health Insurers already assist their members undertake this analysis, and websites like Health Share and Mind the Gap provide useful information. Therefore, it should be made mandatory for all elective surgery procedures,” Mr Mason said.

“In essence, more data and disclosure of individual specialist fees is required to enable patients avoid being over-charged. In order to provide more visibility and transparency in relation to surgeons and specialist’s fees.”

The Association has also been working with websites such as My Dr Bill in order to enhance its offering to the public and ensure it is up to date and contains all the information patients require in order to make an informed decision about specialists’ fees.


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