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Patient’s first: Expanding access – narrowing the gap

22 March 2016

There’s been a lot of discussion about the cost of medical device technology lately – particularly related to the potential for Private Health Insurance (PHI) reform.

We agree there’s room for improvement. But there is no quick fix.

Cuts to the benefits private health insurers pay for medical devices through cuts to the Prostheses List won’t necessarily translate into cheaper costs for patients in accessing technology or decrease PHI premiums.  They might even make some medical technologies harder to access. Would this matter to you? A recent Galaxy Research study says it does[i]:

  • Virtually all those with private health insurance (97%) consider it important that they can access the latest medical technology through their insurance cover. Most of these consider access to the latest technology very important (64%).
  • More than 9 in 10 PHI holders (94%) agree that health insurance companies should provide cover to members for the medical device chosen by the patient’s doctor.
  • The overwhelmingly majority of PHI holders (86%) consider it unacceptable that private health insurance companies do not fund the latest advances in medical technology.
  • Three quarters of all PHI holders (75%) disapprove of the private health insurance companies choosing not to fund some of the latest medical devices that are available in Australia.
  • There is widespread disapproval for cuts to the health insurance system that would result in doctors being unable to choose the specific medical device they believe is best for their patient. Overall, 84% of PHI holders disapprove of these cuts and only 9% approve.

…and the bottom line:

  • More than half of the current PHI holders (52%) would consider cancelling their policy if changes resulted in them being unable to access the latest medical technology through their insurance.
  • Slightly less than half (46%) would consider cancelling their policy if health insurance companies adopted a user pays approach in which policy holders would be required to pay extra to access the latest medical technology.
  • Two thirds of PHI holders (66%) would consider cancelling their policy if insurance companies increased premiums and reduced access to the latest technology.

With April 1 just around the corner, it’s natural you’ll be thinking about what to do with your PHI.

We’re looking at healthcare where the patient comes first – that’s you.

We want you to live well and we want to see people access healthcare that will benefit them. When we all live well, the whole community is healthier. It’s that simple.

[i] Galaxy Research: Health Insurance Study, Commissioned 22-23 February 2016

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