hirmaa: Extend transparency to all

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The transparency and accountability standards applied to private health insurers should extend to all health service providers, according to hirmaa in its submission to the ongoing senate inquiry into private health insurance and out-of-pocket medical costs.

"The commitment of health insurers to meet the very highest standards for transparency provides the consumer with access to granular information around the operational performance of each and every private health insurer that is simply unavailable in other areas of the health supply chain - such as hospitals, medical practitioners and medical device/prostheses companies," it says.

The association argues greater transparency will ensure more effective competition, choice and consumer empowerment, which ultimately has the potential to deliver savings and reduce upward pressure on premiums.

"The present lack of data means that both consumers and governments alike are largely in the ‘dark’ when it comes to measuring and benchmarking service provider performance and value for money for consumers and the taxpayers."

It proposes government should mandate reporting and transparency standards for medical professionals, "with all data placed on an online portal available to patients and their General Practitioners.

"This transparency would allow consumers to consider data pertaining to practitioner performance and value for money, improving information provision to consumers and empowering them in their decision making," it says.

"It is concerning that in Australia, while consumers can access online portals benchmarking the performance and cost of hotels, they cannot access a single authoritative online portal that benchmarks the performance and cost of medical specialists, who play such an important and fundamental role in the delivery of patient care."

It continues, "Regulatory reform that establishes an online registry listing information such as, each individual practitioner’s out of pocket costs by MBS item, total amount paid through the MBS and a total average out of pocket fee, is long overdue."