6 key conditions that must be met before private health funds can engage with general practice

6 key conditions that must be met before private health funds can engage with general practice

Six key conditions that must be met before private health insurers can enter the general practice market. Image: Pixabay.com

Private health insurers are gearing up to enter the general practice market. But it appears their plan is a copy of the dreaded US-style ‘managed care’ approach.

It’s best to keep health funds at arm’s length or else they will decide what care can, and can’t be given – instead of the patient and the healthcare provider. Therefore, I suggest that six conditions must be met before private health insurers can engage with general practice:

#1: Universal access

Every Australian should have equal access to a GP, independent of insurance status.

#2: Freedom of choice

People should have the option to choose their GP and private specialists; this cannot be dictated by health funds. Patients together with their doctors are best at deciding which tests and treatments are appropriate, not third parties like insurance companies.

Patients should always be given the option to choose and change health funds and insurance products.

#3: Transparency 

Health funds must provide a straightforward package covering GP and/or basic private hospital care – as well as more comprehensive packages. Exclusions should be kept to a minimum. Health funds should make patients aware of exclusions and any other limitations before they buy a product.

To assist consumers choosing the best health insurance that suits their circumstances, an independent Government website should monitor, compare and publicise all available insurance packages.

#4: Professional autonomy

GPs and practice staff need support to be able to provide good care; this also means they should not be overloaded with red-tape, reporting requirements and KPIs. For the same reason health funds should not cause delays in treatment. GPs have the right to set fees to ensure practice viability.

#5: Evidence-based care

Only proven, appropriate, and cost-effective care should be covered.

#6: Stakeholder involvement

Health consumer organisations and the medical profession need to be engaged, as this will likely lead to better outcomes.

Finally, new regulation should be put in place to safeguard compliance by all parties.

3 thoughts on “6 key conditions that must be met before private health funds can engage with general practice

  1. Good points Edwin. I would also probably add security of practice and patient data. One of the key reasons health funds are pushing to get into Primary Care is so they have access to the data. For them this is the gold mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If this post was entitled ‘6 key conditions that must be met before government can engage with general practice’, the following comments could be made:

    Do we have universal access to GPs now? If not, why not?
    You get who you’re given in the public health system. Muslim women can’t specify female doctors. South Australian mothers to be can’t pick their treating hospital. Patients can’t pick a specialist of their choice.
    Let’s have an independent government website comparing mortality, morbidity, and patient satisfaction scores between public hospitals. Hang on, there’s no choice anyway, so what would it matter? Did Fuelwatch help?
    Do I really need to say anything here?
    Pharmacies paid to sell homeopathic remedies? MBS rebates for some odd therapies? Care plans for sore knees? Superclinics with no doctors?
    Given the above, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    We need educated, invested patients, and professional, caring, ethical doctors. Health funds (and business in general) are not all bad and health fund bashing to defend the status quo isn’t justified. Let’s work together to get better outcomes for our patients.

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