Media Release

7 million Aussies avoid medical specialists due to expense

    • Cost keeps 36% of Australians from seeking specialist medical care
    • Australians were out-of-pocket $317 per episode in 2017
    • Tips for reducing unexpected medical costs

17 October 2018, Sydney, Australia – One in three Australians referred to see a medical specialist haven’t booked the appointment due to cost, according to new research from finder.com.au, the site that compares virtually everything.

The finder.com.au survey of 2,011 Australians found that 36% – the equivalent of 6.9 million Australian adults – have avoided seeing a medical specialist due to the cost burden.

The research also found that women (41%) are much more likely than men (32%) to have dodged a specialist visit because it was too expensive.

According to finder’s analysis of the latest APRA data, out-of-pocket hospital expenses for hospital treatment cost an average of $316.57 per episode.

Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at finder.com.au, says the cost burden of seeing private specialists was putting off many Australians.

“It’s concerning that so many Australians can’t adequately address medical concerns due to money issues.

“Specialist appointments can come with a big price tag, but ignoring a medical condition could end up costing you much more than a specialist appointment,” she said.

Hassan said specialist doctors were often the ones who diagnosed more serious conditions, so it's worth exploring all options.

“It’s worth ringing around to see if you can find a specialist who doesn’t charge over and above the Medicare rebate so you don’t end up hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket.”

Plastic or reconstructive surgery is the procedure with the largest gap, where 38% of the average procedure price is an out-of-pocket expense, followed by ENT (ear, nose and throat) procedures where, on average, 29% is out of pocket.

State by state:

  • Patients from Tasmania are most likely to forego needed medical care – with 44% of respondents admitting they have.
  • Victorians are most likely to get follow-up care with a specialist – with only 34% deciding not to due to the expense.
  • The ACT is the state with the highest gap fees, with an average of $280.99 per procedure where the out-of-pocket fee was paid.

Have you ever avoided going to see a medical specialist because it was too expensive?

StateYesNumber of people
TAS44%179,621
WA43%854,176
SA38%515,881
NSW36%2,203,573
QLD35%1,321,456
VIC34%1,680,323

Tips to avoid unexpected medical costs

  • Choose a health fund that provides 100% gap cover
  • Choose a policy that doesn’t include excesses or co-payments
  • Make sure your doctor or hospital participates in your health fund’s gap cover scheme
  • Find out what fees are charged by other health care providers such as your anaesthetist
  • Only seek treatment from health care providers who charge the MBS-scheduled fee

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For further information

Disclaimer

The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on finder.com.au's review pages for the current correct values.

About us

More than 3 million Australians turn to finder.com.au every month to save money, time and make important life choices. We compare virtually everything from credit cards, phone plans, health insurance, travel deals and much more.

Our free service is 100% independently-owned by two Australians: Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia. Since launching in 2006, we’ve helped our users make more than 17 million decisions.

We continue to expand and launch around the globe, and now operate in the United States and United Kingdom. For further information visit www.finder.com.au.

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