Australians blame health insurers for rising costs in the nation's healthcare system, new consumer research reveals, as most of them expect private health insurers to play the biggest role in combating the nation's rising healthcare costs.
The federal government follows closely behind insurers in terms of the important role it is expected to play in addressing costs.
A survey of 1,535 people commissioned by health insurance giant Bupa reveals that Australians cite addressing rising costs as the single most important factor for improving the healthcare system.
Dr Dwayne Crombie, Bupa’s Australian health insurance boss, said the research presents the industry with an interesting conundrum because while people held insurers most accountable for costs, it was medical specialists and hospitals that set the fees, while insurers and governments were left to pick up the tab.
He said: “Australians are now turning to private health funds to really lead the charge around cost innovation on their behalf.”
Dr Crombie added that this would mean addressing the pricing practices of some medical specialists, which could leave insured Australians with huge out-of-pocket expenses.
“We have already tackled the issue of medical device costs such as pacemakers and ceramic hips and knees,” he said. Further reform on this issue is expected and insurers have committed to pass all savings from this reform to consumers through lower premiums.
Australians also expect private health insurers to work with GPs, specialists and patients more closely to ensure patients have access to transparent information to make informed decisions about their insurance, treatments and methods of prevention.
“The challenge presented to the sector and private health insurers in particular is how are we going to achieve greater collaboration to meet the expectations of a public equally concerned about improved quality of life, increased life expectancy and reduced cost,” said Dr Crombie.