Medibank Private has suggested some key questions people can ask to ensure they are fully informed before any in-hospital surgery or procedure.
According to Dr Linda Swan, Medibank’s chief medical officer, being told difficult or distressing news can understandably mean people forget what they need to ask.
“I’d recommend patients plan ahead with a list of questions before a consultation. Every surgery brings with it the risk of complications, so you need all available information before deciding whether to proceed with what is being recommended,” said Dr Swan.
“You’re not second-guessing your doctor or questioning their expertise. It’s about making well-informed decisions about your own health,” she added.
Dr Swan said patients unsure about a recommended treatment or cost should seek a second opinion.
“Just because a particular specialist’s name is on the GP’s referral letter, this doesn’t mean you can’t take the referral to a different doctor. You may find different specialists charge very different fees for the same treatment or procedure. Paying more doesn’t mean you’ll get better quality of care.
“The doctor’s office should provide an estimated cost breakdown. You can then determine what Medicare will cover, and where you’ll be out-of-pocket. If you have private health insurance, call the provider and check if they also make a contribution to the cost.”
Medibank has launched an out-of-pocket cost calculator that enables people find out more about the cost of 45 of the most common hospital procedures.
“To reduce bill-shock, the calculator provides the likelihood of having out-of-pocket costs with an indicative range, what’s paid by Medibank and Medicare,” said Dr Swan.
Medibank's recommended questions before a test or procedure
1. Do I really need this test or procedure?
2. Why are you recommending this surgeon to me?
3. What are the risks and possible complications?
4. Are there simpler treatments or safer options available?
5. How much will this cost?
6. Will my current lifestyle and health impact possible treatment?
7. What experience do you have with this procedure?
8. Will I need to stay in hospital and what will my recovery be like?
9. What does my private health insurance cover?
10. How can my private health insurer help me post-procedure?