7th Dec 2017

More private insurers are using public hospitals

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More private insurers are using public hospitals
Olga Galacho

Private health insurance funding of stays in public hospital has grown twice as fast as admissions to private facilities, a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report reveals.

In 2015-16, about one in five admissions that were privately funded occurred in public hospitals. This was up from one in seven nearly a decade ago, according to the report, Private health insurance patients in Australian hospitals, 2006-07 to 2015-16.

The study also showed that patients aged 75 and over were more likely to be placed in a public hospital by a private fund than any other demographic.

“When looking at the types of admissions and services provided, medical care was the most common type of service provided for private health insurance-funded admissions in public hospitals, and surgical care was the most common in private hospitals,” it reported.



Additionally, privately funded patients appeared to be treated more favourably, for example their waiting times for elective surgery was shorter than it was for public patients.

 On average, privately funded patients waited about 20 days compared with 42 days for public patients and 18 days for other patients.

“When looking at knee replacement surgery, the median waiting time for private health insurance-funded patients was 76 days, compared with 203 days for public patients,” said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

“Private health insurance-funded patients were more likely to be categorised as needing this surgery relatively urgently, with 43 per cent requiring knee replacement surgery within 90 days. This compared with 25 per cent of public patients.”

Opinion: think before you bank on this insurance advice

The statistical analysis conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) should silence the detractors who are increasingly bashing health insurance for the wrong reasons.

Last week, esteemed investment bank Morgan Stanley said in a lengthy report for clients that buying health insurance was a waste of money because … wait for it … the free public hospital system was the bees’ knees.

News Corp, which obtained the report, quoted Morgan Stanley Executive Director Daniel Toohey as writing that “the private health industry had become lazy and the Government should refuse any premium (rises) until the industry sorted itself out”.

It’s true, there is much to begrudge health insurers – their steadily rising premiums that seem to cover fewer and fewer treatments, for one – but for the silvertail bank to champion sitting among the sick and wounded for hours in emergency before seeing a doctor, like most users of public hospitals do every day, is a bit rich.

In a “nothing to see here” assertion, the bank said: “The picture is not as dire as the media would suggest (of a public system at breaking point, evidenced by crowded emergency departments and ballooning elective surgery wait times).”

And it advised: “People who are grudge purchasers of health insurance will be better off paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge than buying insurance.”

But its most incredulous claim was that the public sector could right now feasibly absorb the excess demand caused by an ageing population and falling private hospital admissions.

Really, Mr Toohey? If you were very ill, would you stoop to rub shoulders with the masses in a smelly, overcrowded and noisy admissions waiting room?

If he took his firm’s advice and ditched paying for private health care, it wouldn’t be long before he would likely regret it if he needed a new knee. According to AIHW, if he were a private patient in a public hospital, he would likely wait just over two months before being wheeled into theatre. If he went for the procedure as a public patient, his wait would be closer to eight months.

Thankfully, Private Healthcare Australia chief Rachel David wasted little time in dismissing some of the bank’s conclusions as incorrect and very naïve.

 “Wait times for elective surgery in public hospitals extend to years and the public system can’t quickly treat disabling sporting injuries, eating disorders, weight-loss surgery, chronic severe anxiety and depression,” Ms David was reported to have said.

Sounds like Mr Toohey et al have been schooled.

Would you ditch your private health cover if you have any? Do you have as much faith in the public hospital system as you do in the private sector?

Related articles:
Study blasts health insurance
Understanding insurance for seniors
Little-known health insurance saving





COMMENTS

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Maggie
7th Dec 2017
9:54am
"On average, privately funded patients waited about 20 days compared with 42 days for public patients and 18 days for other patients.

This is a quote from the article. I know we have private patients and public patients, but I don't know who the" others " are. Does anyone?
Old Geezer
7th Dec 2017
10:11am
Others is the third tier of our medical system that the wealthy use. There are many treatments available but are not covered by Medicare or private health insurance. Most doctors wont tell you about them as they assume you can't afford them and they are thus wasting their time.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
11:18am
Indeed - Lang Hancock flew to the US to get an immediate heart op that he couldn't get here... didn't work for him, unfortunately for him, but fortunately for his inheritors....
Rosret
7th Dec 2017
11:30am
We have a strange system where two patients needing the exact emergency care will be treated equally until the one who has been paying Private cover for decades is hit with a massive excess gap fee.
Its only the threat of delays and waiting periods that makes a lot of people stay with private health.
Its certainly not for dental and optical cover!
Knows-a-lot
7th Dec 2017
1:15pm
Rosret, you ought to know by now that all insurance is a SCAM.
AutumnOz
7th Dec 2017
2:22pm
I agree Rosret and that is why I quit paying for hospital and medical insurance.
If you live in a small town or in a rural area there is often no choice of hospital or surgeon etc. so you get the same treatment in the public system as you would as a private patient - apart from the horrendous amount of dollars demanded before admittance and the many "gaps" that are not covered by the insurance even though they should be.
GrandmaKathleen22
7th Dec 2017
5:50pm
Rosret, my husband needs new glasses. He will put the frames on his private cover this month and next month he will put the lenses on thus claiming for his new glasses but in a sneaky but legal way.
More than three quarters of our recent dental bill was covered by our our private health insurance. Between the two of us $800 was coughed up by our private health insurer.
A few months ago I needed an in hospital procedure. The whole lot was fully covered by my private health insurer in the amount of a couple of grand. There was no excess or copayment required to be paid by us.
Going back a year or so I was in an emergency department of a public hospital because I had severe vertigo. I was asked to swipe my private health card to help them out. I was happy to do so. The hospital was given $400 to help with the costs. It was not obligatory but voluntary.
We are way ahead but I shop for the best deal from the private insurers and my specialist never charges me. I was his first patient as a specialist 11 years ago but I believe he does that for everyone. There are good people like him who are not money hungry and accept the base fee.
The key is to shop around personally
JO
7th Dec 2017
10:02am
Other could be user pay for treatment as needed.
Knows-a-lot
7th Dec 2017
1:16pm
And if the need is great but the user cannot pay? Let them die?
JO
7th Dec 2017
10:07am
A friend recently injured his finger at home doing outdoor building work. Went to private hospital close to home in Brisbane. Initial consultation and minor surgery, he a holder of top private cover was out of pocket $1750.00 a week later.
suzyq
7th Dec 2017
10:48am
And that is why I gave up private medical. Every time I had something done it was at least 1000.00.
bigpella
7th Dec 2017
11:36am
But what excess did he have Jo? Was it to minimise his fees? susyq looks like she had her excess set at $1000.

My dear old dad told me 50 years ago that medical benefits were a waste of money, particularly after the government forced friendly societies out of the market. i.e. When there was no such thing as a gap. He said I should put the fees I would pay into a bank account and let it accumulate and pay any medical costs out of that account.

Being young and about to be married the advice fell on deaf ears but I now wonder if I had adopted his advice what the balance of the account could have been. I guess it would be in the tens of thousands of dollars if not more. I have been blessed with good health up to now but I'm starting to feel the effects of my sporting days and working environment. So next time I review my benefits, I might consider a cost benefit analysis and see what avenues are available to minimise my costs.
Knows-a-lot
7th Dec 2017
1:17pm
Doctors are often financially rapacious - particularly specialists and surgeons.
Radish
12th Dec 2017
7:43am
That is why so many are not saying they have private insurance and going public. If rushed in as an emergency it does not pay to say you have private...you are treated the same as public but you are nearly always out of pocket. So why would you say you have private insurance.
It is not illegal...you have every right to be treated as a public patient.
Trix
7th Dec 2017
10:55am
I have been paying for health insurance for most of my life, the problem I have with it is, if I have a need to go to hospital etc I would not have the money to pay the gap so for this reason will be cancelling my health insurance as I see it , it's only for those that have the money gets up my nose that I have to cancel after all these years but it is just wasted money
Florgan
7th Dec 2017
10:58am
2 yr wait for knee replacement in Adelaide on public.
But I have nothing but praise for public everything when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Hasbeen
7th Dec 2017
11:13am
I aught to move to Adelaide.

3 years wait to even see a specialist for a knee replacement in South East Queensland. Over a year & 3 appointments, with a wait of 8 weeks to get scans done, to be finally put on the list for surgery.

That was 4 months ago, still waiting for a date.
Rae
7th Dec 2017
11:00am
I have top cover but would not use it unless absolutely needed because of the very large out of pocket expenses.

The twice I we needed to use specialist services they were provided in the rooms and not covered by that $2500 a year insurance anyway.

I regret not just putting the money in an account all these decades.

If times became very hard my medical insurance would be one of the first things I stop. In fact if they keep raising it 8% every year I'll be gone even sooner. That is a lot of money to keep throwing into a bottomless pit with no return and no loyalty attached to it.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
11:21am
If you read my comments below, Rae - I posted those before I read anyone else's - that's a policy of mine, so that I don't become a sycophant to someone else's ideas..... and I agree 1000% with you.

(aye, man moost 'ave integrity of own ideas an
' not be kow-towin' to every passing fad!!!)....
Rosret
7th Dec 2017
11:32am
Hear hear.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
11:17am
I've long stated that I find it unconscionable on the part of doctors to place private people first rather than working on a needs basis. It's a bit like that final scene in the movie Fargo - there's more in life than a little money.

That said - I've had some top people work on me very quickly and without my spending a dollar, so it comes down to the individual surgeon etc. In any case, private patients, in my eyes, are taken for a ride, since they pay in advance and then they still pay for 'extras' such as anaesthetics (that's an 'extra' in an operation - wow - you live and learn!), meaning they are out of pocket three way - they pay the fees, they pay the Medicare levy, and then they pay out of hand for 'extras'. Ludicrous.

So - to me - that means the entire medical procedure industry and the private health schemes need a thorough review and a lot of tightening up.

As for taking up space - - well - I addressed that one in my first paragraph - put simply, how does a doctor abiding by the Hippocratic Oath dump a suffering person to the bottom time after time in order to fit in some filthy lucre?

Don't they already get paid enough? And for the 'righties' here - the AMA is probably the most recalcitrant and frankly obnoxious Union in this nation.

There's more to life than a little money.............................
Triss
7th Dec 2017
12:45pm
Yes, you're right, Trebor.
Rae
7th Dec 2017
1:14pm
Yes Trebor well said.

I find it appalling that we have doubled our population over 30 years but built very few hospitals. It is mismanagement by State Governments and should have had Federal Funding increased per head of population including the millions of visa holders and tourists using the facilities.
Knows-a-lot
7th Dec 2017
1:19pm
The Hippocratic Oath has become the Hypocrites' Oath.
George
7th Dec 2017
11:28pm
Agree Trebor, the entire Medical Industry - Insurance, Suppliers and AMA need to be reviewed and strict controls put on their quality (including inclusion) of services and prices. The whole industry is collaborating to rip off the consumers, with the Govt watching like impotent dopes.
Grateful
7th Dec 2017
11:26am
Probably the same "silver tails" that can afford private health insurance who are also creating the demand for housing that has put young families out of home ownership!!!!!!!! GREED and selfishness!!!!!
Knows-a-lot
7th Dec 2017
1:21pm
Absolutely true. Greed and selfishness are rife in our society.
tropic
7th Dec 2017
11:33am
Private health insurance ia an expensive waste of money. Don't forget that it is propped up by the taxpayer. So even if you don't have the insurance you still pay for it through your taxes. A perfect example of inequality where the poor pay for the rich without getting any benefit. Choice of doctor is of course a con since few people know who to choose. They rely on their GP like everyone else. Items and salaries in private health are far more expensive. In knee replacements just the metal part is in private health far more expensive than in public health. Pure profit making. If all the government subsidies for private health went into the public health and we increased the medicare levy a bit we could have an equal and world class health system.. Now we are slowly but surely drifting to the American system. Health care for the rich only.
Adrian G
7th Dec 2017
2:34pm
"Don't forget that it is propped up by the taxpayer".

And Public health costs are paid 100% by the taxpayer.
Maggie
7th Dec 2017
5:41pm
You seem to be forgetting that people who have private health insurance are tax payers too. I pay for private health insurance and this year my insurer has paid out over $100,000 for me without a quibble. That is $100,000 that other taxpayers are not having to fork out,hence more money for those who are unable to afford private insurance. I am really happy about that.

Another thing - have you any idea how many years specialists study for and have you any idea what they have to pay back to the government for their study loans?

Have you any idea the sort of hours they have had to work in public hospitals during their training? I don't think they are as greedy as you would like to think.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
10:57pm
You mean nobody pays interns and registrars and such, Maggie? Well I never!

I had no idea that graduated medical students worked in hospitals to hone their skills for free.............

I was supposed to be a quack myself... but my Patch Adams kind of nature didn't fit with the then establishment.... once went to a nurse's party and was swamped with fine females...... the only thing they wanted to know was what my specialty was.....

Nowadays my approach would be a heartsong for many a very sick patient, but I still criticise the AMA and many of its Unionists for their rapacious nature, like politics, just another way to good money.

I'd be doing heaps for free..... but that's me.
tropic
7th Dec 2017
11:47pm
Maggie As far as I know and see, I never mentioned "greedy" doctors. Even though some of them are very greedy. I am fully aware of the studies they do as I am in the field myself. You were obviously unforunate enough to require $100,000 worth of treatment. That's not the amount of saving for the taxpayer though. it's far less than that. And those people you talk about that are not as priveleged as you are in being able to have insurance. Yes they paid towards your $100000. In addition you made a claim from the public purse as well. Claiming $100,000 in one year is not average though. Rather than having people like yourself who feel a certain entitlement. I am all for an equal health care system where people are treated according to real need and not according to the insurance they can afford and not what dr tells them they need because it gets Dr another rip off fee. That last one is the American system.
Blossom
7th Dec 2017
12:09pm
People are going to Govt Emergency Depts, not private because it costs a mininum of $220 for a pensioner or $260 for a non-pensioner. It used to be free if you were admitted but that hasn't been the case for a few years. You can not claim against Medicare or private health for that at all.
Adrian G
7th Dec 2017
12:24pm
My local paper again said today that emergency wait times are too high and there's no more money to do better (in fact my hospital's apparently in the red).

Private Insurance puts money into the system. Cancel your insurance and where is the money you would have put in going to come form? Either increased taxes or less spent on schools or roads, that is if the govt will supply it.
Rae
7th Dec 2017
1:20pm
Who's mismanagement is that then.

Maybe instead of pulling down two perfectly good stadiums to rebuild that $2 billion would be better off building some clinics.

Pity we can't get back the $16 billion Baird wasted gold plating wires and poles to flog off for $11 billion meaning we made one huge loss on the deal. Worse still it raised the hospital electricity bills sky high.

We has public assets that paid for public services using my taxes and yours. You now suggest we keep paying again and again.

No.
tropic
7th Dec 2017
4:09pm
What money is private insurance putting into the system? I know they are making massive profits for their share holders.
roy
7th Dec 2017
10:16pm
Don't join a private health company that has shareholders, simple.
Triss
7th Dec 2017
12:43pm
It seems to me [cynical maybe] that the gap is the fee charged before we were pushed into having insurance. Med professionals jumped on the insurance band wagon but kept charging their original fees as gap...pays for the Porches they all drive around in.
Rae
7th Dec 2017
1:22pm
I've noticed that those paying upfront without insurance are only charged the gap so I suspect you are right Triss.

The AMA union and fees and charges should be examined for possible collusion and corruption.
Knows-a-lot
7th Dec 2017
1:14pm
What an appalling development. EVERYBODY in a public hospital should be treated according to their needs, to the best of the hospital's ability.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
10:59pm
Spot On!
4b2
7th Dec 2017
1:17pm
Why are private patients treated in public hosptals anyway. It appears to me the private health insurance industry is more interested in profits than helath care.
Adrian G
7th Dec 2017
2:37pm
Because they themselves pay for what others expect other taxpayers to pay, thus increasing the amount of money in the health system and saving the government having to tax you more.
Rae
7th Dec 2017
4:56pm
It is a for profit system with a lot of expensive CEOs and shareholders to pay.

The Government of course pays billions in concessions for private health cover to support these private businesses.

If all that money went to public health we would have a better system.
rob101
7th Dec 2017
1:29pm
private health insurance ONLY works if you are Admitted! If has no effect on A&E visits.Nursing staff in private Hospitals ARE NOT paid more!
All from personal experience!
Maggie
7th Dec 2017
5:30pm
If you choose to go to a private A&E department you pay for it whether you are admitted or not. If you go to a public hospital's A&E you do not pay for it, unless you are privately insured. In that case someone representing the hospital usually asks you to sign a paper giving the hospital permission to charge your insurer for the visit.

I suspect that your personal experience of pay as a nurse may not be the standard anymore/everywhere. I was recently in a private hospital where nurses drove great distances to come to work and when I commented on that, one of them told me that she came because "we are very well looked after here".
AutumnOz
7th Dec 2017
2:17pm
When I first came off my parents Health Insurance and paid for my own I paid for Private Cover a few months later became very ill, requiring me to be treated in hospital for several weeks, after being released from the hospital I made a claim and was very surprised to receive a cheque from the Health Insurance company for the difference in cost between the 4 bed ward I had been in and the private room I was paying for.

There were very few Private Hospitals then and the Public Hospitals had both the dormitory style public wards, 4 or 6 bed intermediate wards and single bed private rooms... ...they also had funding from the Lotteries which our gov't sold off to some private company who now take the profits from those lotteries rather than the profits going to help the hospitals cope with expenses.

Maybe I should have put a "Prepare for a shock" warning on the top of the post :-)
Arisaid
7th Dec 2017
2:35pm
To answer some of the queries etc. Instead of waiting to see a specialist at a public hospital clinic, spend the bit extra and see them in their private rooms. The specialist can then put you on either the Private list, the Intermediate list (which is a private patient in a public hospital) or on the Public list. Hasbeen you then won't have to wait 3 years for an appointment to see the specialist to get on the list. You may be $100 or so out of pocket but it may be worth the money instead of the pain for 3 years!! If you have insurance make sure that the specialist you are sent to is registered with your insurance company. I recently had to have some urgent surgery and the only specialist who could do it really quickly was not registered so it cost me heaps out of pocket. However, the only pain I am feeling is in my hip pocket.
Insurance is just that - you are insuring against things going wrong. I was going overseas and because I had been in hospital within one year with a pre-existing condition I had to pay over $2000. Luckily I didn't fall ill whilst away. However, if I had my insurance would have covered it.
I have another "insurance" to pay each year. I have had cancer and had stem cells taken and stored in case it comes back. I have my insurance.
Above I mentioned Intermediate patients. Private specialists who work in public hospitals are allowed a very small number of Private patients on operating lists.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
11:05pm
Ari - my experience is just that - you see the doc in his/her private rooms, and sometimes you pay for that.... and get the rebate. When the actual op goes down in a hospital, you pay nothing.

Interestingly, many years ago I was a sole patient in a small private hospital... (my James Bond years)... and had a top surgeon and staff in attendance - and it cost me not one cent. Damnit - got a golden staph infection, too... but anyway - at that time the government paid for it......

It seems the profit motive in private health has lead to massive cost increases....... and private hospitals seem to be endless money pits......
Not Amused
7th Dec 2017
2:57pm
Our private health insurance has always covered all hospital bills apart from the excess. The reason we stay in it is due to the long public hospital waiting lists and the dreadful conditions of some public hospitals where the medical treatment is good but all else (wards, cramped rooms, food) is the reason one of my friends, hospitalised for a semi-serious condition, got a taxi and went home. Some private hospitals will not admit patients with heart attacks, strokes and various other serious ailments. All you get as a private patient in a public hospital is a free television. Unless it is elective surgery, you don't get your own doctor either. When admitted they tell you that as a private patient you have a better chance of getting a private room (but that never happens unless you are dying). Why the health funds don't crack down on forking out for public hospital admissions I don't know.
Arisaid
7th Dec 2017
3:26pm
Your last sentence. Because you are a Private Patient in a Public Hospital.
johnp
7th Dec 2017
4:21pm
For what its worth I have threatened private health fund that I will go elsewhere when renewal comes around. That is when faced with a gap or out of pocket fee. Low behold they came to the party and paid it !!????
Eddy
7th Dec 2017
5:17pm
I was privately insured and was treated in a public hospital because that was where the ambulance took me when I collapsed on the street, I was there for nearly eight weeks and the treatment I received was first class, with no out-of-pocket expenses. I signed up as a private patient as the hospital told me they got full fees from Medibank Private whereas Medicare only paid a smaller percentage, 75% from memory. I was also told I could expect no preferential treatment, private rooms were allocated on medical needs not insured status. Was okay by me to be in a shared room. Nowadays I have a DVA Gold Card while my wife has Medibank Priv and it will probably stay that way.
shirboy
7th Dec 2017
5:38pm
My son pays top cover & his knee replacement in a private hospital cost him $1000 out of pocket. Also his stay in hospital was 3 days!
shirboy
7th Dec 2017
5:41pm
Our local public hospital gives excellent care. We are very lucky.
GrandmaKathleen22
7th Dec 2017
6:04pm
People should be angry at the wealthy using public hospitals with no private cover and paying nothing. At least people who have private cover contribute something. The public hospitals should be means tested which would help with all the issues like wait time, staffing, etc.
I choose the private system unless I go to emergency and from there you can be changed to private which has happened to me. Or you stay in ER for the day and contribute something.
You ask your GP for referrals to specialists who bulk bill and many do. Mine does.
If you are not happy with your private insurer then tell them. They do not want to lose you.
Or shop around yourself for a better deal.
Vic
7th Dec 2017
7:00pm
My husband and I are members because when I have wanted to see a specialist most of them won't see you unless you have private health insurance.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
11:07pm
Never happened to me.... I see the top specialists, often for free.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
11:07pm
Two of them are teachers in school of medicine at ANU....
AnnW
7th Dec 2017
7:38pm
I have been paying for top private cover for over 40 years and the out of pocket expenses have progressively got so much higher over the years. I have arthritis in various parts of my body which has caused a lot of pain. 5 years ago I was told I needed spinal fusion, I had it done under my private insurance and was out of pocket by nearly $10,000. 3 years ago I was told I needed total replacement if both knees. I spoke to the surgeon and he advised my out of pocket expenses as a private patient would be around $8000 - $10,000 but if I waited and had the replacements done as a public patient, there would be NO out of pocket expenses but I would have up to 12 months wait time. I waited that time, it was 12 months, and had them both replaced at the same time and saved nearly $10,000. I am now semi retired and seriously considering cancelling my private health cover as all it seems to do is cost me a lot of money.
Maggie
7th Dec 2017
7:43pm
I am so sorry to hear about your experience. The truth of the matter is that different surgeons charge vastly different prices for the same procedure, and we need to start asking for quotes from these people. Some of them are without conscience and are only in the business for money!
AnnW
7th Dec 2017
7:54pm
Thank you Maggie, Your totally right about the various costs. I live in ACT and most surgeons I’ve seen here charge a lot and will not treat you in the public system. I had my knee replacements in a NSW by a surgeon in that region & am very happy with the results. One of my biggest gripes is that most people just don’t have a spare $10000 so you either have to wait and put up with the pain or borrow the money if it’s really bad.
Old Geezer
7th Dec 2017
10:09pm
My private health insurance covers me in both private and public hospitals with no excess. I also get bulked billed for all my specialists.
TREBOR
7th Dec 2017
11:08pm
You get bulk billed and have private cover?

OK..............................
Maggie
7th Dec 2017
11:15pm
This is for Trebor. Some of us are not wealthy people at all. We choose to pay for private cover and often have to do without other things to pay the premiums. Why should we not get bulk billed, especially when we are making a huge contribution with our private insurance covering most if not all of our other hospitalisation and the procedures we have to have.
Old Geezer
8th Dec 2017
9:21am
Needed some new glasses so found out from health fund where I could get a pair with no gap after their rebate. So called in yesterday to get a new pair of glasses and got quoted $139 extra. So I said that my health fund said there would be no gap so where is the extra cost? After discussions with the manager they decided to give me the glasses with no extra to pay.

So folks just ask when you make an appointment or when surgery etc is discussed and sound surprised and indicate your are having second thoughts if they want to charge extra. Remember they have already invested their time into you case and thus most will negotiate with many wavering the gap payment.
Maggie
8th Dec 2017
8:23am
This is for Trebor and Tropic. I am not going to search through what you write individually.

I don't feel entitled to anything. I came from a country with a dearth of medical services and under trained doctors, where right now in this day and age, magic is officially recognised as medicine, a country which can provide only a little medical attention with what small funds are available. I saw patients with small pox and diptheria and polio with my own eyes. I witnessed a woman die of an ectopic pregnancy because there were no emergency services. And even if there were medical services to hand, if you had no money, you got no treatment. Simple as that.

I found here an amazing medical system which I still feel, rightly or wrongly, many people do not appreciate simply because they have not had to do without. And I have come to know too, that it is often abused.

I have paid tax in this country, but not enough I feel to start claiming free medical treatment from specialists and that is why I have private health insurance. Let me spell it out: I do not feel entitled to it.

As for the comments about trainee doctors I am surprised that someone who is "in the field" shows so little knowledge about the conditions they face. I did not suggest that they are not paid, but for the hours they work I reckon they are underpaid. Why do we have the highest rate of suicide in the world of young doctors? There is plenty about that online.

It seems possible to me too, from what I have heard and read, that there are circles of medical specialists who quite deliberately manage to keep their numbers down so they can charge what they like.

There are good and bad in all walks of life. If we want to make a difference we should be more demanding of information so that we can sort out what different doctors charge. I feel fairly confident that would bring about some changes. I would certainly like to know too, where the hospitals I go to rate in terms of hygiene etc.

I feel that if a means test was introduced, and people were charged for medical services accordingly, things would look up. We cannot expect free treatment to last under any government while the population increases and more and more wonderful treatments, tests and machines are being discovered and manufactured all the time.

It would be nice if there was more objectivity in the contributions to these pages.
AutumnOz
8th Dec 2017
12:53pm
A very good comment Maggie.
You made several good points on things we here take for granted and give little thought for how people in countries without our benefits manage to stay healthy.
I hope you are happy living in Australia, we need more people like you who have consideration for others.
Maggie
8th Dec 2017
3:10pm
Thank you AutumnOz! I am a very proud citizen and I count my blessings every day.
retroy
9th Dec 2017
7:39am
Maggie
You have said so many things that need to be said, and heeded by the serial moaners who are never satisfied, or continually harp on the injustice of someone else having more money.
What is most unfortunate is the medical insurance companies and private hospitals exploiting the vulnerable by profiteering, and taking every shortcut that becomes available to them.
However Maggie that is just the Australian way, and is a downside we have to endure to enjoy the privilege of living in this wonderful country.
Bonny
9th Dec 2017
7:48am
We already have a means test as you pay a higher Medicare levy the more you earn and private health insurance costs more the more you earn too.
Maggie
9th Dec 2017
9:07am
I do not think the statement that the cost of private insurance goes up with your income. I have never been asked about my finances by my insurer. I would be interested to hear if others who are privately insured have been asked for more money because of their financial situation
Lci
10th Dec 2017
7:14pm
I am a recent retired registered nurse of 49yrs working in both public and private hospitals over the years. Privately insured patients usually get in quicker for surgery as the surgeons have so many public beds and so many private beds quite often there are no public beds availiable due to the waiting list, hence itis faster to get into private. On the other hand for medical admissions there are not enough beds availiable for admissions and the private may have beds availiable hence they do get admitted as a result. At times a private patient may be admitted into a public bed as a private patient and are transferred to a private bed when availiable.
maxchugg
11th Dec 2017
11:04am
I know a man who had health insurance all of his working life, but could not afford it in retirement.
The time came when he needed cataract surgery and after waiting around 3 years, one eye was finally done, then a further wait for over 2 years for the second eye to be done.
I was advised to have cataract surgery early because of glaucoma. Both eyes had been treated within 3 months.
The problem with the system is that the funds are more than happy to take your contributions when you are young and low risk. But when you reach pension age they are no longer interested, more than happy for you to leave.
Maggie
11th Dec 2017
12:21pm
Insurance is a business proposition, not an emotional one. For years the man you mentioned might have had to claim a great deal of money and it would have been given to him.

He stopped paying for a service, and so the service stopped.

People insure their homes and contents and their cars in case something happens. If they stop paying their insurance they know they can't make a claim.

None of this has anything to do with age.

Having said all of that, I feel for your friend. It really was bad luck.
Rainey
11th Dec 2017
12:59pm
I find it confusing that the government seems to want more people to pay for private health insurance yet creates a situation where if you endure a period of financial crisis that forces you to drop cover, you can never afford to have it again. I acknowledge that insurers offer ''no claim bonuses'' and discounts for loyal customers, but the current legislation doesn't take into account that someone might have paid for private health insurance - possibly at very high rates - for many decades. Having had to drop out for an extended period, you are stuffed! Seems to me to be inconsistent with urging people to insure privately if they are able. Almost doubling the cost for isn't going to encourage retirees to try to budget for private health insurance. Is the government serious about wanting to relieve the load on the public system? If so, they need to focus on making private insurance both affordable and good value.
mike
12th Dec 2017
5:45pm
I was a private patient in a shared ward in a private hospital after a hip replacement. My room mate drove me mad because he couldnt sleep and kept flicking his TV set, surfing from channel to channel continuously virtually all night. Trying to recover after major surgery and being a private patient in a private hospital this was unacceptable, however I was told because my room mate was a private patient, he was allowed to use the TV all night if he wanted to. Too bad for my recovery. However this would not have been allowed in a public hospital.
mike
12th Dec 2017
5:45pm
I was a private patient in a shared ward in a private hospital after a hip replacement. My room mate drove me mad because he couldnt sleep and kept flicking his TV set, surfing from channel to channel continuously virtually all night. Trying to recover after major surgery and being a private patient in a private hospital this was unacceptable, however I was told because my room mate was a private patient, he was allowed to use the TV all night if he wanted to. Too bad for my recovery. However this would not have been allowed in a public hospital.
Arisaid
12th Dec 2017
6:26pm
Similar thing happened to me, until I lost it and demanded that they move me. Eventually they did in the middle of the night. Got some sleep then.
Old Geezer
12th Dec 2017
6:45pm
I had a shared room once where my room mate had the air conditioner on low all the time and I was freezing. My room mate even told the nurse I was being rude as I had drawn the curtain between us to stop the cold air hitting me. So after the umpteenth request for a warm blanket they move me.


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