Bupa sick of the blame game

Posted: 23 February 2018 9:10 am

Doctor treating young patient

Dr Dwayne Crombie addresses issues facing private health insurance in Australia.

People need to stop pointing the finger at the private health insurance industry for the rising premiums, says Bupa Australia’s managing director of health insurance Dr Dwayne Crombie. Instead, people should start looking at improving the health system and cutting unnecessary expenses.

Rather than citing one particular area, Dr Crombie believes that the answer to why health insurance premiums continue to rise is more nuanced than just greedy insurers but rather that rising costs are a sign of a healthcare system that is under strain from various sources.

One such area is the cost of in-patient versus out-patient treatment. Dr Crombie gives an example of someone recovering from hip or joint surgery where the in-patient costs could run to $9,000 for two weeks of treatment versus between $500 and $1000 for an out-patient.

“The problem is you do end up paying, because that $9000 adds up – at Bupa we spend about $160 million a year on inpatient rehabilitation. If you can go home for $500 or $1000, that's a much better choice and we could spend that money on something else or lower your premium.”

Crombie also touches on the spinal fusion epidemic plaguing Australian healthcare, which Bupa spends roughly $50-$60 million a year on.

“We know from the studies that a very small proportion of people benefit from spinal fusion of the lower back – probably in the order of 10 to 15% and yet this is a very difficult, expensive operation often with complications.”

Crombie's sentiment furthers the call to arms to remove these low-value care options from cover, freeing up funds for treatment options with proven success.

You can watch the full address from Crombie below.

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