Doctors rebel at industry’s cash-grabbing
DOCTORS irate at their industry’s own greed are offering discounted surgery and saving patients up to $70,000.
The quasi-pro bono service highlights how ridiculously high some surgeons’ fees have become and the inadequacy of health fund rebates.
Macquarie University head of plastic and reconstructive surgery Professor Anand Deva is behind the program which covers post-weight loss surgery, breast reduction surgery, breast implant revisions, bariatric surgery and is about to expand into hip and knee replacements.
More than 4000 privately insured low income earners have applied to take part in the program and about 300 pa- tients in Queensland, NSW and Western Australia have so far been treated.
“If all surgeons did at least one access case a month it would be great. I’m doing four” he said.
Under the program, doctors accept Medicare and health fund rebates for the surgery and charge patients about $500 in gap payments for plastic surgery and up to $1000 for bariatric surgery. This is a massive discount as commonly gap payments for plastic surgery can exceed $20,000 per surgery.
Prof Deva said profit motive was undermining medicine and he wanted to bring it back to serving the patient. He said too many people with private health cover couldn’t afford to use it because they faced massive out-of-pocket expenses when doctors charged too much and health fund rebates were inadequate.
“I don’t want everyone dropping their cover because of medical greed,” he said. “Affordability is starting to go down and the system is hurting and people don’t see value in it. People are drifting away from private insurance and ultimately that will break the system.”
The ACCESS scheme has been set up with administrative support from Macquarie University. Patients who have private health cover can apply to take part in the scheme online and if they are found to meet certain criteria are granted access to the program.
They must be earning less than $120,000 a year, undergo a pre-surgical assessment and be prepared to quit smoking or lose weight. ACCESSPROGRAM.ORG.AU