Many Australians shun expensive specialist visits
Out-of-pocket costs are up 33% over the last five years.
New research reveals a significant proportion of Australians who were referred to a medical specialist in 2016 didn't end up seeing the doctor because they felt the costs were too high.
A study by finder.com.au found around two fifths (41%) of patients referred to a specialist skipped out on these visits, citing costly fees and out-of-pocket expenses.
The survey, which analysed responses from more than 2,000 Australians, revealed women (47%) were far likelier than men (35%) to have avoided a specialist visit due to cost issues.
In 2009/10 average out-of-pocket expenses for specialist and consultant physician consultations for Aussie households was $325. In 2016, this figure rose (33%) to $488 per year.
Comparing different Australian states, residents of Western Australia (49%) were most inclined to dodge a specialist visit because of the cost. Queenslanders (45%) weren't far behind, followed by those in New South Wales (40%) and Victoria (38%). South Australians (34%) were least likely of all to skirt the specialist.
Australian's are plagued by a wide degree of variance in the costs and treatments of eight common medical procedures, according to a report by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Medibank.
For example, the Surgical Variance Report 2017 found colonoscopies cost between $1,153 and $6,308, leaving Aussies, on average, $272 out-of-pocket. One third (32%) of patients were discharged same day.
"From this data we can see there’s a lot of variability in the length of the hospital stay, which may be the result of factors beyond the patient’s characteristics," Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said.
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