What Australia’s Health Panel said about finding medical costs- April 2022

Before agreeing to buy or get something, generally people like to know how much it is going to cost. As the costs of living in general, and health care costs specifically, continue to increase faster than wages; it is unfortunately becoming more and more crucial for people to find out the costs of medical procedures before they commit to them.

However it isn’t well established what Australians do (or don’t do) in order to find out how much medical and health procedures cost. The Consumers Health Forum of Australia has been commissioned by the Department of Health to find out.

So for the Australia’s Health Panel April 2022 survey we asked the panel how they would find out the costs of a medical or health procedure. And we found that when consumers need to find out the costs of a medical activity, they generally look to the “coal face” of the health system to find it- asking their health provider directly or other staff working at the health facility. However people are often unsatisfied with this method, finding it very difficult to get certainty of costs in advance or compare them with other options.

While the current Australian Government Medical Costs Finder Tool was overwhelmingly not known by consumers or front of mind as an option they could use; the issues identified with trying to get cost certainty from providers directly do indicate that the Tool or other service could serve a valuable purpose if properly developed and promoted to the public.

The results of this research will inform our advocacy and partnerships on health systems affordability, in particular with the Department of Health following the 2022 Federal Election. The Consumers Health Forum of Australia would like to thank all panellists for giving up their time to participate in this survey. Any questions about this survey and its findings can be directed to info@chf.org.au.