Health funds have already agreed to pass on in full Prostheses List benefit reductions and it is an official requirement of the current premium round, according to Private Healthcare Australia CEO, Dr Rachel David.
Dr David was responding to calls from the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) for government to give the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) the power to audit the books of insurers to ensure medical device price savings are passed on to consumers.
Speaking at this week's public hearing of the Senate inquiry into the value and affordability of private health insurance and out-of-pocket medical costs, MTAA CEO Ian Burgess said, “It’s critically important every cent of savings is directly passed through to their 13.5 million customers.
“This is an industry that receives $6 billion in taxpayer handouts, equivalent to 26% of their total revenue. Independent review by the Australian National Audit Office would be entirely appropriate and would ensure full transparency by private health insurers."
However, Dr David said the commitment of health funds to pass on the reductions in full is already being overseen by the prudential regulator, Department of Health and minister Greg Hunt.
Department of Health officials, who also appeared at the hearing, said the prudential regulator currently has significant power to ensure the reductions are passed on.
"Should yet another regulator be required to ensure an appropriate outcome for the consumer, you would expect it would also audit the medical device suppliers to take account of whether the regulated savings are actually delivered, real market prices are being charged, whether rebates or kickbacks are being given to providers under prostheses list benefits, and whether all services provided under those benefits are clinically relevant and evidence-based," said Dr David.