Private patients routinely face bills ru nning into thousands of dollars, in a system characterised by high cost, complexity and confusion, the Consumer Health Forum's Out of Pocket Pain survey has found. An added challenge is the variation inlevels of health literacy across the Australian community.
More than a quarter of those having treatment for cancer who responded to the survey incurred costs of more than $10,000 in the past two years. Of the 1,200 who responded to the survey, one in six reported that costs had a significant impact on their lives, with some having to draw down ontheir superannuation.Well over one third ofrespondents said that no-one had discussed the possibility that they may face significant out of pocket costs with them and that they had the right to shop around.
The survey results graphically highlight a fundamental dilemma now besetting the public/private health system: Australians facing heavy medical bills are now shocked to find that the private insurance they have paid so much for over many years exposes them to yet more expense when they require treatment. Responses strongly support the establishment of an independent and authoritative website which consumers can consult to ascertain the fees and charges of individual specialists and allied health professionals. More than 70 per cent of respondents supported the concept.