APA Budget response: Private health insurance review needs to support patients out of hospital
3 May 2016
The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) welcomes the Government’s commitment to review private health insurance in tonight’s Budget – sharing the opportunities to improve cover to support patients in the community, rather than in the high-cost hospital environment.
“It is pleasing a concerted effort to make private health insurance affordable and responsive to Australians starts today,” APA National President Marcus Dripps says.
“Currently, the system is too rigidly focused on in-hospital care – where patients only receive benefits for their time in hospital. It means a patient’s hospital cover doesn’t really cover their treatment.
“It doesn’t pay for the pre-operative care needed to prepare them for procedures like knee surgery, or their after-hospital rehabilitation care. They have to pay for this from their ancillary (general) treatment cover.
“This represents a significant waste of resources and lack of knowledge of correct care pathways.
That’s just not how effective health care works,” said Mr Dripps. “We need private health insurance products that overcome this artificial divide and reduce longer hospital stays.
“The people who really benefit from such approaches are hospital owners. Hospital owners must come to the party with innovation.”
The APA says regulatory changes must occur to ensure hospital programs and ancillary programs do not artificially segregate hospital care. Private health insurance products need to be complimentary rather than separated, and high-quality pre- and post-hospital care should not be left to be funded from ancillary/general benefits.
The APA says ancillary benefits must be re-shaped to encourage the structured ‘top-up’ and outreach programs for people with chronic health conditions.
“People with these conditions expect their cover to last through the year. When they are doing the right thing to take care of their health, they expect not to run out of cover.”
The APA believes the private healthcare reforms must:
- Provide strong incentives through regulation if necessary to ensure that rural Australians have an equivalent access to care
- Facilitate a stronger focus on maintenance of health, by funding prevention programs that work
- Allow the adoption of new digital health modalities which are safe, cost-effective and promote continuity of care
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About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)
The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 22,000 members who conduct more than 23 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit www.physiotherapy.asn.au