Sick bills of health

Med­i­cal care costs crip­pling

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Federal Politics - CLARISSA BYE

HIGH health costs are forc­ing Aussie bat­tlers to de­lay seek­ing med­i­cal treat­ment with most of us be­liev­ing med­i­cal care is just too costly.

Aus­tralians are also baf­fled by doc­tor fees, how much their pri­vate health in­sur­ance will pay for a pro­ce­dure and whether to get a se­cond opin­ion, new re­search re­veals.

It un­cov­ered high lev­els of con­fu­sion about nav­i­gat­ing the coun­try’s com­plex health sys­tem, from se­lect­ing the best GP, to find­ing a spe­cial­ist and guess­ing the amount of the gap be­tween pri­vate in­sur­ance and Medi­care.

Com­mis­sioned by med­i­cal com­par­i­son web­site Ten­der Health­care, the Galaxy poll of 1000 Aus­tralians found 89 per cent of peo­ple be­lieve health­care is ex­pen­sive 64 per cent have de­layed treat­ment as a re­sult.

Den­tist Dr Myles Holt, founder of Ten­der Health­care, said in to­tal, 86 per cent of peo­ple felt con­fused about health­care. He said pa­tients found it hard to find a se­cond med­i­cal opin­ion, par­tic­u­larly for spe­cial­ists.

“With Aus­tralians lead­ing in­creas­ingly busy life­styles, few peo­ple have the time or money to run around town to mul­ti­ple con­sul­ta­tions,” Dr Holt said. “De­spite know­ing the value of re­ceiv­ing vi­tal se­cond opin­ions, most peo­ple set­tle for what­ever they can find nearby.”

But he said prices and qual­ity could vary dra­mat­i­cally be­tween sub­urbs. The new Ten­der Health­care web­site al­lows pa­tients to post their cases and doc­tors can of­fer their ser­vices and fee lev­els.

The sur­vey also found 52 per cent of Aus­tralians were con­fused about how to choose the best der­ma­tol­o­gist, 61 per cent were con­fused about the level of pri­vate health cover needed for a der­ma­tol­o­gist visit and 50 per cent are con­fused about the level of cover they will re­ceive for a den­tist/or­tho­don­tist.

Coogee’s Rhi­an­non War­rie, 23, moved down from Bris­bane and still hasn’t found an old-fash­ioned re­li­able GP.

She said she needed to up­date her con­tra­cep­tion method but strug­gled to find a good lo­cal doc­tor, af­ter at­tend­ing med­i­cal cen­tres and get­ting con­flict­ing ad­vice.

“I still haven’t found a GP, I re­alise that’s a bit ridicu­lous,” she said.

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