Australians being hit for huge out-of-pocket surgery costs

Australians being hit for huge out-of-pocket surgery costs

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August 17, 2017/Kirrily Schwarznews.com.au

SOME surgeons are charging thousands more than others for routine surgeries, leaving hapless patients to foot the extra costs out-of-pocket.

A new report by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Medibank says patients are being forced to pay as much as $5500 extra for knee and hip surgeries due to huge variations in surgical fees around the country.

Analysts used data from Medibank customers who claimed more than $5 as out-of-pocket expenses following surgery.

It’s pretty dry, but there are two significant takeaway points.

First: always shop around for a surgeon.

“There is a lot more to selecting a doctor than taking the first person that is recommended to you,” Dr Linda Swan, chief medical officer of Medibank, told Fairfax’s Kate Aubusson.

“[Cost] should be part of the referral process. They should be asking questions like ‘What is the expertise of this doctor?’, ‘How many procedures have they done?’, ‘What costs will I incur?’, ‘What hospitals will this doctor be able to walk right into?”

Second: consider flying to South Australia, where patients are asked to cough up much smaller amounts far less often than in other states.

KNEE REPLACEMENTS

The report surveyed 543 surgeons who performed at least five knee replacements, and found the cost of identical surgeries could range between $17,797 and $30,285.

Almost four out of every 10 patients were asked to cough up an average of $1885 — although that ranged as high as $5137.

Interestingly, while 59 per cent of patients were asked to shell out extra in New South Wales, only one per cent had to pay out-of-pocket in South Australia.

 

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