Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fear of 'Americanisation' of healthcare system

Statements by Australia's private health insurance industry that rising health premiums have been caused by the high cost of devices, such as pacemakers and replacement hips and knees, has sparked fears about the 'Americanisation' of the health care system. The health insurers' representative body – Private Healthcare Australia - produced data showing that a knee replacement costs three times more in Australia than in Canada.

But Susi Tegen (right), CEO of the Medical Technology Association Australia, said: “Comparing one country against another on price alone is misleading. You could ask the same question: Why does it cost $37,490 for a new Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI in Australia but in Ireland you pay $48,720 and in Singapore you pay $173,220?

“Rather than blame everybody else, the private health insurance industry needs to take a good look at itself first. If the private health insurance industry had their way, they would be quite happy to see the Americanisation of our health care system.”

AMA’s Federal President, Dr Michael Gannon, last week told the National Press Club: “If the actions of the funds continue unchecked and uncontested – especially their aggressive negotiations with hospitals and their unchecked attacks on the professionalism of doctors – we will inevitably see US-style managed care arrangements in place in Australia”.

The ACCC is taking action against Medibank, the biggest health insurer, for alleged misleading conduct and other actions. The Government received more than 40,000 submissions, with many containing complaints, especially about “junk policies”.