The private health sector has united to challenge the validity of a Morgan Stanley report claiming Australia's public hospital system is capable of handling all of Australia’s medical needs.
According to the report, the public hospital system is good enough to meet the needs of Australians, and government should refuse any premium increases for three years.
The report has been dismissed by Private Healthcare Australia and the Australian Private Hospitals Association.
"There is no doubt if you have experienced a catastrophic health event and are brought in on a stretcher, Australia’s world-class public hospital system is the best place to be," said PHA CEO Dr Rachel David. "There are however a number of less acute, but highly debilitating conditions for which access to care is much less certain, which is why people choose private health."
Dr David pointed to research from IPSOS showing 80 per cent of privately insured patients believe they get value for money and want to retain cover. She also highlithed the annual report of the Health Care Complaints Commission, which found it is six times more likely to receive a complaint from a patient in a public hospital compared to one in a private hospital.
“There are many conditions which can seriously impact younger people, limiting their ability to get and hold down a job, or form a relationship. These include disabling sporting injuries and other accidents which are not life-threatening but limit the capacity to work, mental health admissions for eating disorders and chronic anxiety/depression and dental surgery.
“Timely access to public hospital treatment for these conditions is patchy at best, and in some outer suburban and regional areas, access to common types of non-emergency surgery may take years. One of the problems is consumers have little or no information about how long wait times are for a particular condition in public hospitals in their area, and without private health insurance, they can be in for a nasty surprise.
“People with private health insurance have chosen it because it gives them control over the timing of medical treatment, and also access to fully trained specialists who take responsibility for their care. In contrast to the claims in the Morgan Stanley report, State Government data shows in many areas public hospitals are already overwhelmed and under stress,” added Dr David.
APHA CEO, Michael Roff, questioned the validity of advice on private health insurance from an investment bank and said the importance of choice cannot be underestimated.
“In the public system, you don’t get to choose when you are treated, you don’t choose which doctor treats you and you don’t choose which hospital you are treated in,” he told News Corp.
“In the private system you do. And apart from the case of major trauma, you will always wait to be treated in a public hospital.
“Although waiting times in the public system may be categorised as ‘clinically appropriate’, most people don’t understand that depending on the condition, this could be months or even a year.”