- On November 26, 2019
AMA (NSW) President, Dr Kean-Seng Lim, says Dr Stephen Duckett’s criticism of medical doctors as contributing to the problem of high private health insurance premiums is flawed.
“The amounts of money paid to doctors by private health insurers are not related to how much doctors charge.
“If a doctor charges a larger or smaller amount, it might affect a patient’s out-of-pocket expenses but the amount paid by the private insurer would remain static.
“In any event, medical services only comprise about 15% of the total amount private insurers spend on hospitals, for instance.
“Blaming doctors for the woes of the private health insurance industry is unfair,” Dr Lim said.
“I also want to be clear on the fact that, as a GP who works in Mt Druitt, I find the number of ‘greedy doctors’ headlines that have come out of this report particularly vexing.
“The key drivers to out of pocket costs are the failure of successive governments to appropriately index the Medicare Benefits Schedule and, in association, insufficient indexation of the fees paid by private insurers.
“If there has been an increase on spending on doctors by private health insurers, it’s not so-called ‘greedy doctors’ driving it.
“We do need to have a conversation about making our health system, including our private healthcare system, more sustainable and doctors and the AMA are always happy to participate in those discussions.
“However, these changes will come from understanding and respecting the care provided by doctors in our health system and by providing patients with accurate information about the drivers for costs.
“The evidence just doesn’t support this narrative of ‘greedy doctors’ ruining things for private insurers,” Dr Lim said.
Media contact: Lachlan Jones 0419 402 955