Rising Cost of Health Care
The Nick Xenophon Team is concerned about the affordability of private health care. Rising health insurance premiums and medical gap fees are slowly taking choice away from people who want control of their health care options.
Last year Nick and I initiated a Senate Inquiry to get to the bottom of sky-rocketing premiums, fees and out of pocket expenses that are slowly but surely pricing many Australians out of private health care. The resulting report on the 'value and affordability of private health insurance and out-of-pocket medical costs' was tabled on 19 December 2017 and can be found here.
This is the 16th consecutive year that health insurance premiums have gone up but consumers aren’t necessarily getting a better product.
Medical fees are another issue that need closer investigation. Specialists, for example, are able to charge as they please. Their fees are subject to a voluntary code but don’t need to correlate with skill or experience and the charges don’t actually act as a benchmark to guide consumers.
I think that if consumers are being asked to pay higher prices for their private health insurance and to access their specialist of choice, they deserve to know that the fees have been fairly set and that they are getting what they pay for.
The private health insurance inquiry made 19 recommendations designed to help make private health insurance more transparent and return better value to policy holders. We are still awaiting the Government's response but, if adopted, these recommendations will require the Department of Health to publish the fees of individual medical practitioners in a searchable database, and require insurers to pay all their policy holders the same rebate for receiving the same treatment. These are a couple of the key measures that will give consumers more power, and value for money.
The private health insurance inquiry followed another NXT secured to probe the outrageously inflated costs of prostheses (implantable medical devices such as replacement joints and heart stents) in the private system - another reason premiums are going up. The report of this inquiry can be found here.
The Government was largely supportive of the recommendations of the Prostheses List inquiry (the Government response can be found here) and I have been pleased to see it implement reforms in response that will not only save taxpayers money but will help to bring down some of the inflated costs of private health insurance.