Spiralling out-of-pocket health care costs are the biggest concern of older Australians.
National Seniors is calling for reforms that put a brake on rising health care costs
The major worry is the amount of money people are paying out of their own pockets for services and procedures.
Unless you go to a public hospital or are bulk-billed by the GP or specialist, you will have to pay the ‘gap’ costs. These are the fees charged over and above the Medicare rebate benefit and whatever your health fund is willing to cover.
People on low fixed incomes are particularly hard hit and may put off medical treatment or cut back on their private health cover.
Out-of-pocket costs continue to grow as doctors’ fees rise faster than the Medicare rebate. Skyrocketing private health insurance premiums and growing lists of treatment exclusions also contribute to the declining affordability of health care.
This situation is made worse by a lack of transparency in the health sector. Whilst the federal government introduced in early 2019 a new system to assist with comparing private health insurance policies across providers, the process of comparing insurers and their products can still be somewhat difficult to navigate in order for consumers to get good cover at a reasonable price.
Also, comparing specialist fees and services is almost impossible for most consumers to undertake as information in relation to procedures can be complex for normal folk to understand, and typically when someone is under care for a medical condition, they are not in a position to debate the price of the procedure in the same manner as someone who is getting quotes to have their home guttering replaced for example.
Fees for in-hospital care further increase out-of-pocket costs.
Patients’ bills may include costs for multiple doctors, including surgeons, anaesthetists, pathologists and radiologists. The total cost of in-hospital treatments may not become clear until months afterwards.
According to a survey of 6,000 National Seniors members, seniors want reduced out-of-pocket specialists’ fees, cheaper private health insurance premiums, increased funding for public hospitals, and more services covered by Medicare.
Learn more about National Seniors’ campaign to cut health costs and tell doctors, insurers and the government what you want.
You can also help by becoming a National Seniors member.
About National Seniors Australia
National Seniors exists to connect, support and deliver change for older people today, and for generations to come. With an active community of over 200,000 members, customers, partners, donors, and supporters, National Seniors advocates on behalf of our community to ensure a ‘fair go’, driving positive outcomes through evidence-based advocacy and research. Visit their website