Consumers win with new private health deal

A new deal between private hospitals and health funds will lower the number of consumers paying unexpected bills. Private hospitals and health funds have agreed on a new code of practice that will improve their contract negotiations. Traditionally, contract negotiations between the two parties have not been a smooth process with the hospitals claiming that the insufficient funds given to them by the private health insurance companies barely cover the costs of basic patient services such as drugs, staff, rooms and supplies. The private health fund companies in turn have accused the hospitals of being inefficient. As a result of these disputes, consumers are stuck with lower benefits. However under the new code, hospitals will be required to give patients an estimate of any potential extra expenses as well as notification if a contract expires or is terminated. Both the Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) and the Australian Health Insurance Association (AHIA) have welcomed the new code believing that it will greatly benefit consumers.

‘Patients the winners in health fund contract deal', The Australian, 12/12/00, p 2.