Thursday, 30 August 2018 12:40

Medibank launches ‘find a provider’ tool

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Medibank has launched a ‘find a provider’ tool designed to help users of its services and their GPs find out how much, and how often, a specialist charges out-of-pocket costs.

The health fund provider says the new tool is accessible via its website, with customers able to see out-of-pocket information for more than 14,000 specialists.

Medibank data for 14,000 specialists listed on Find a Provider showed that for hospital admissions – 83% of claims did not have an out-of-pocket for Medibank customers, 13% of claims had an out-of-pocket of less than $500, and 4% had an out-of-pocket of more than $500.

Medibank says, however, this data does not include out-of-pocket costs 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, customers are concerned about how much it will cost when they’re admitted to hospital.

Dr Swan says the new portal now enables Medibank’s customers to have a conversation with their GP 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,” she said.

“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 recommends that anyone visiting their GP or specialist should plan ahead with a list of questions before a consultation.

“You’re not second-guessing your doctor or questioning their expertise. It’s about making well-informed decisions about your own health,” she says.

“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.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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