Device costs go down as insurer profits go up

Private Healthcare Australia’s disingenuous response to today’s APRA data, suggesting that the medical devices industry is ‘driving sales volume’ in response to government reforms, is factually incorrect, a blatant misrepresentation of how our private healthcare system operates and demonstrates a complete disregard for the needs of patients.

According to today’s APRA data, despite an 8.6% increase in volume, an 8.5% drop in average benefit level has meant that insurers have paid a total of $13 million less for medical devices over the last financial year.

“The medical devices industry has made the only direct contribution to keeping the cost of private health insurance down, delivering the lowest premium increase in 18 years,” said Ian Burgess, CEO of the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) today.

“The cost reductions are a direct result of the $1.1 billion dollars in cuts delivered by MTAA through the Agreement and demonstrate MTAA’s active contribution to the affordability of healthcare in Australia,” Mr Burgess said.

Meanwhile, insurer profits continue to increase, with NIB reporting a 9.2 per cent increase in annual profit yesterday to $201.8 million, with a share price increase of 31 per cent over the past six months, and Medibank Private’s share price up 16 per cent.

“After tax profits for insurers are up 15% over the past three years as affordability for ordinary Australian families goes down,” Mr Burgess said.

“The suggestion that an increase in use of medical devices by privately insured patients is somehow a negative is a clear demonstration that the private health insurers have lost focus on consumers.”

Volume increases are being driven by an ageing population, an increase in chronic disease and the growing demand for new treatments due to the benefits provided by medical devices.

“Patient and clinician choice is a key part of the value proposition of private health insurance, one that risks being eroded by the false claims made by insurers about the cost of devices,” said Mr Burgess.

“The medical technology industry believes access to a full range of medical technology is one of the key benefits of having private health insurance and we’re committed to helping ensure all Australians lead healthier and more productive lives,” Mr Burgess concluded.