Out of pocket costs undermining health system


Irrespective of whether or not ‘harvesting’ by public hospitals of privately insured patients is occurring, next week’s 4 Corners program on out of pocket costs should alert the private health sector to look at its own cost structures, the Consumers Health Forum says.

The 4Corners Mind the Gap documentary which is expected to demonstrate how high gap costs are undermining the private health system follows the Out of Pocket Pain survey by the Consumers Health Forum which revealed many patients were paying $10,000 or more in out of pocket costs.

“The fact that privately insured patients are getting elective surgery in public hospitals ahead of public patients is a matter of concern and deserves thorough scrutiny,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“Patients treated in public hospitals should receive treatment in a timely manner on the basis of their clinical need. The statistics showing that public patients wait twice as long as private patients for elective surgery performed in public hospitals should raise the concern of all Australians, particularly the majority who do not have private health insurance.

“The reality is that many insured patients who choose public hospital care do so because they wish to avoid the heavy out of pocket costs associated with private care for the same procedure.

“These patients have paid their taxes AND their health insurance premiums.  Should they not have the choice which private supporters so often advocate to decide between private and public care?

“The irrational complexity of the current health costing arrangements once again demonstrates the need for a Productivity Commission inquiry into Government assistance for private health insurance which we have called for,” Ms Wells said.



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