The Turnbull Government will work with the medical profession to address the large and sometimes unanticipated out-of-pocket medical fees some patients face.
A new expert committee chaired by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, will investigate out-of-pocket costs and options to ensure that consumers are better informed of fees before agreeing to treatment.
Professor Murphy has extensive experience as a medical specialist, academic and medical administrator.
Large out-of-pocket fees charged by a relatively small proportion of medical specialists are a matter of justifiable and considerable community concern.
This is especially true when patients are unaware of the scale of the fees at the time of initial referral to the medical specialists. For some patients, these fees can cause financial hardship.
Medical Colleges, private health insurance funds and consumer groups have all expressed concern about these cases.
The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs is part of the package of reforms to private health insurance announced on 13 October 2017.
It will identify why some doctors are charging large fees, and explore strategies to ensure that consumers and referring General Practitioners can compare fees and out-of-pocket costs when choosing a doctor.
The committee will consult with the medical profession, hospital sector, private health insurers and consumers.
Professor Murphy will be joined by representatives from:
• Consumers Health Forum
• Australian Medical Association
• Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
• Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
• Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
• Australian College of Anaesthetists
• Australian Orthopaedic Association
• Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand
• Catholic Health Australia, and
• Private health insurance industry.