Medical costs comparison website slammed

Font Size:

A medical costs comparison website established with the aim of allowing consumers to more accurately gauge specialists’ fees and out-of-pocket costs has been slammed.

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) chief executive Leanne Wells says the Medical Costs Finder website must be overhauled.

The $2.5 million comparison website has been accessed by fewer than 10,000 users since being launched six months ago.

Ms Wells told Nine media that prices charged by individual doctors need to be “visible and comparable”.

She said out-of-pocket health costs would “hurt families more than ever as a result of the economic impacts of the pandemic” and called on surgeons to “take into account the financial stress on individuals and families” when setting their fees.

“We urge the government to address out-of-pocket costs as a priority,” she said.

When the site launched on 30 December 2019, Ms Wells said it was “an inadequate response to the need for an open and comprehensive presentation of individual doctors’ fees and likely out-of-pocket costs”.

“There is an urgent need for the website to display more detailed information giving individual doctors’ fees. We urge doctors to participate by permitting their fees to be displayed on the website.

“The failure of the organised medical profession to take a more proactive approach on the publication of fees does doctors no credit.

“The government, through Medicare data, already has access to much of this information. The question now needs to be asked: do the interests of doctors in preserving their fee confidentiality outweigh the interests of patients in being able to ascertain and compare doctors’ fees?”

The ABC reported that the site went live without key features such as the ability for patients to search and compare specialist fees. The aim was to reduce “bill shock” and “crack down on doctors charging exorbitant fees”.

Health minister Greg Hunt has promised work on the website would continue.

But consumers have voted with their keyboards. The site had only 9861 unique visitors in the six months to June 17 – 3482 of them in the first two days it operated.

In June, only 304 Australians used the site.

“There is an increasing need for clear and transparent information about the cost of healthcare, particularly at the moment with incomes being down,” said Public Health Association of Australia spokesman Terry Slevin.

He told Nine that patients needed to be “fully informed, so they know what they’re getting themselves into”.

A spokesman for Mr Hunt said the website “is being delivered in stages and will continue to be upgraded with more information”.

“There is ongoing work with the medical sector to make costs more transparent, including by allowing individual doctors to disclose their fees on the website,” the spokesman said.

“While we are engaging with medical groups about the development of this function on the website, the timeframes are being balanced with the need to ensure Australia’s doctors can focus on managing the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The site currently relies on the goodwill of specialists. Gynaecologists, obstetricians, and oncologists publish their fees on a voluntary basis. They are not forced to publish fees for outpatient consults and their most common services.

When Medical Costs Finder launched, AMA president Tony Bartone said very few doctors overcharged and the best way to make an informed decision was to talk to your doctor.

Were you hoping the site would allow for a transparent comparison of doctors’ fees? Have you accessed the site?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Alcohol is our main drug problem, but few know the dangers

Legal, plentiful and easy to access, alcohol is the main drug of concern in Australia.

Residential aged care findings ‘horrendous’, says GP

Only 1.3 per cent of residents are in facilities with ‘best practice' staffing.

Are you in aged care denial?

Challenger shares five facts that might surprise you when it comes to aged care planning.

Written by Will Brodie


Total Comments: 3
  1. 0

    just had a look, I am not surprised that people ignore this site, I did not know about it and it is not helpful at all my wife has severe Scoliosis and was not mention or that or any back surgery at all, another wast of OUR money and I am sure there is somebody with their snout well in the trough who benefited.

  2. 0

    First I have heard about the site. I thought specialists could charged what they liked. First time consult with a specialist is often $150 and that’s with being on the Aged pension and after Medicare. GP, before I was on the pension had a gap of about $40. Exhorbatant fees being charged right across the health practitioners. Maybe all their fees should be capped.

  3. 0

    I have just had a cystoscope procedure and have compared the government site with my invoice, I have the most expensive health insurance (top level) hospital with a $450 excess.COST= $86/WEEK. MEMBER SINCE 2003. the government figures are doctor $1300, Gov rebate $470, Health fund rebate $360, Gap $430, my invoice reads , doctor $687, Gov rebate $127.05, Health fund rebate $169.35, Gap $583.65. where do the Government get their figures from? government gap $430 my gap $583.65 = 30% MORE. The site is just another Government Smoke and Mirror promotion to make it look like they care.



continue reading


What happens to regional travellers when borders snap shut?

Beryl lives in a regional area and is planning a trip to another regional area and wants to know if...


Surprising Aussie town of the year revealed

If you were asked to name Australia's best town, what would you say? If your mind wandered to the sweeping...


Avalon airport first to introduce COVID testing kiosks

Avalon Airport is the first in Australia to use COVID-testing kiosks after the HealthGate machine was approved by the Therapeutic...


Some of the world's most verdant city escapes

In an increasingly eco-conscious world, smoky, fume-filled cities often get a bad name. The car exhaust, the noise pollution, the...


Simon and Carla Fowler are sailing through retirement

As soon as the pandemic is over and life returns to some semblance of order, would you consider buying a...


Can you guess the city from a virtual walk around the streets?

As we rapidly approach the one-year anniversary of Australia's international borders being closed, you will not be alone in missing...


New South Wales' top five stays

Airbnb in New South Wales is booming. The variety and quality of stays is staggering. However, many of the most...


Jordan is a Middle Eastern delight

"Jordan is one of the driest places on earth. About 75 per cent of our land is desert," notes our...