About the Prostheses List

Key points

  • Health insurers must pay a benefit for products on the Prostheses List
  • The List ensures fund members can access the prostheses chosen by their doctor

The Prostheses List is a list of medical devices for which insurers are required to pay a benefit when a member has the relevant coverage. This requirement is set out in the Private Health Insurance Act 2007.

For instance, if a member of a health fund has hospital orthopaedic cover and requires a hip replacement, their health fund would be required to pay the minimum benefit for any artificial hip on the Prostheses List.

The Prostheses List ensures that surgeons can choose the best available prostheses for privately insured patients without the options being restricted by health funds.

The List is an essential part of the private health insurance offering, enabling members to receive the best quality health care as determined by their doctor. Demand for prostheses has been growing due to population ageing, chronic health conditions and the introduction of new technology.

There are approximately 11,000 items on the Prostheses List. The List is divided into Parts A, B and C.

Part A covers devices that are used as part of hospital or hospital substitute treatment where a Medicare benefit must be paid to the doctor for the procedure performed. The device must be surgically implanted in the body or enable another device to be implanted or allow an implant to continue to function after surgery.

Devices on Part A also must be approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and assessed for effectiveness and cost against other products by the Prostheses List Advisory Committee before they can be listed.

Part A is divided into 13 major categories according to the broad conditions they address, and is further divided into sub-categories, groups and sub-groups. Each prosthesis has its own billing code with a benefit that must be paid for the device.

Part B covers products that are derived from human tissue for treatment of a condition. Part C covers specific groups of medical devices which don’t meet the criteria of Part A but which the Minister for Health considers suitable for benefit payments by private health insurers.

Contrary to popular belief, external prostheses, such as artificial limbs, or prostheses used for cosmetic rather than reconstructive purposes, are not eligible for reimbursement according to Prostheses List criteria.

The Prostheses List is now updated 3 times a year on 1 March, 1 July and 1 November. It is published as the Private Health Insurance (Prostheses) Rules and notification of the list is provided through Private Health Insurance Circulars issued by the Department of Health.

MTAA Site Links:

Prostheses List Reform
Listing on the Prostheses List
MTAA submission to Senate Inquiry on the Prostheses List