Medibank has launched a new online tool that enables its policy-holders to compare how much, and how often, a specialist charges in out-of-pocket costs.
The find a provider tool provides out-of-pocket information for more than 14,000 specialists.
According to Medibank, over the past 12 months, there was no out-of-pocket cost for 83 per cent of its customer claims. However, 13 per cent had an out-of-pocket of less than $500, while 4 per cent had an out-of-pocket of more than $500.
The data does not include out-of-pocket costs charged by doctors for out-of-hospital care, including in their rooms, or those fees charged by other doctors involved in the hospital admission.
According to Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan, the new portal now enables people to have a conversation with their general practitioner about what their specialist may charge.
“We’re making more information available to customers and their GPs to help them have better conversations about out-of-pocket costs before they select a surgeon,” said Dr Swan.
“We know having surgery can be a difficult time for our customers and their families. We want to make sure when they’re home recovering that they don’t receive an unexpected bill.
“We want the best experience for our customers and to help them make informed choices – that’s why we’ve been working to provide customers with more information.”
Dr Swan said Medibank recommends its customers plan ahead before visiting a doctor and prepare a list of questions.
“You’re not second-guessing your doctor or questioning their expertise. It’s about making well-informed decisions about your own health,” said Dr Swan,
“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.”