Device sector says focus on delivering reform rather than campaigning

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The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) has called on private health insurers to focus on returning savings from price reforms to consumers rather than campaigning.

The association was responding to the launch of a campaign by Private Healthcare Australia in which it is calling for further reform of how medical devices are priced.

The MTAA said it "has been actively working with key stakeholders across the health sector" to progress reforms that will continue the downward trajectory of device costs. It said any reforms must ensure the Prostheses List continues to provide surgeon and patient choice.

The association said it has put forward the "most comprehensive plan for Prostheses List reform" that would deliver at least $750 million in additional savings over four years.

The recent 2021-22 Budget included $23.1 million over four years from 2021-22 (and $2.1 million per year ongoing) to "modernise and improve the administration of the Prostheses List".

The association criticised insurers for its new campaign describing it as "spin" that offers "no real constructive positive reforms, except for continuing to push for managed care, which has already been widely rejected by doctors, private hospitals, consumer groups and MedTech innovators."

CEO Ian Burgess urged insurers to "come to the table" with a commitment to cut premiums and pass the $1.2 billion in savings that have already been delivered by the medical device sector.

“The average benefit level per device has continued to decline over the past four years by 14% and the latest Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) data shows that in the last year alone corporate health insurers paid 5% less in total for medical devices,” said Mr Burgess.

“What PHA’s misinformation campaign also won’t tell you is that the proportion that devices represent of insurers total benefit payments has dropped to just over 9%, despite more patients, an increase in chronic disease and an ageing population.

“The truth is patients are getting access to more and paying less – or so they would be if insurers passed on the savings.”