Media releases

December 18, 2000

Keeping health insurance consumers informed

Australia's largest private health insurance fund, Medibank Private, strongly supports keeping private health consumers informed and is pulling out all stops to do so.

Not only is the health fund strongly in favour of keeping its members abreast of private health insurance matters but is also intent on giving consumers information to help them make an informed decision about their treatment regime and manage their health costs.

Says Medibank Private managing director, Mark Burrowes: "Our research highlights the fact that members are looking for information on health and well-being issues - from waiting lists through to which hospital to use - in order to help them to make the best possible decisions about their health.

"If we can help our members navigate their way through the health system, we are providing them with even greater access, control and choice."

Already Medibank Private is taking on this navigational role. Currently it provides its members with information about the medical practitioners who have agreed to lodge claims under the fund's "GapCover" scheme which is designed to eliminate and reduce "gap" expenses.

Says Mr Burrowes: "Our members are at liberty to call us on our 132 331 number and inquire if the doctor or specialist performing their procedure uses our Gap arrangements.

"Once in possession of this information, they can then make an informed decision about whether or not to use the specialist in question or to look elsewhere."

Currently close on 45 per cent of medical claims lodged with Medibank Private are being paid under gap arrangements, with that figure expected to reach the 60 per cent mark by the end of the calendar year. For members whose doctors lodge under gap arrangements, this means "no" or "known" out-of-pocket expenses.

"Given that our GapCover scheme was only launched in November last year, this is a wonderful result," says Mr Burrowes.

In future Medibank Private anticipates providing members with access to independent qualitative information about facilities and treatment regimes as well as more detailed information about what to expect prior to being admitted to hospital or undergoing treatment, says Mr Burrowes.

"Consumers want to feel they are in control of their health experience. And we want to help by giving our members a better idea of what to expect, what questions to ask and how to prepare for a hospital admission. This includes financial consent as well as treatment information.

"Our members can also expect more health and lifestyle information from Medibank Private in the future, including lifestyle and prevention advice on problems such as asthma, diabetes and cardiac disease. We expect to deliver information from experts through our member magazine FeelBetter and via our web site."

In line with its desire to keep private health consumers informed, Medibank Private applauds the private health insurance checklist released on Friday by the AMA, Australian Consumers Association and the Australian Private Hospitals Association.

"We support any move to keep consumers informed and we see the checklist as another mechanism for empowering our members and ensuring greater transparency for consumers," says Mr Burrowes.

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