Media releases

November 8, 2007

First health benefits report illustrates price of good health1

Health costs continue to rise at 8% per year driven by rising hospital and prostheses costs and increasing utilisation, according to the first Health Benefits Report issued today by Medibank Private.
The Health Benefits Report details the most common hospital admissions funded by Medibank Private over the 2006-07 financial year, and includes average cost figures on procedures and prostheses.
"This report shows the unavoidable fact that healthcare is expensive," said Medibank Private Managing Director George Savvides.
"It also shows that it is not just the big ticket items that cost a lot of money - even everyday procedures run into the thousands, and we pay for tens of thousands of them for our members across Australia.
"The odds are at some point in our lives we will need to go to hospital. The other certainty is that as healthcare costs will continue to rise, you want to be sure you have the costs covered" he said.
The most common overnight admission was natural birth (10, 627 admissions), with an average total cost of over $5200, followed by caesarean birth (8,181) at $7,601. When specialist fees and expenses are factored in, the cost of having a baby can easily increase to over $10,000.
Medibank Private Chief Operating Officer Mr Bruce Levy, said that the figures illustrate just how expensive healthcare can be.
"Last year Medibank Private paid a record $2.6 billion in hospital and ancillary benefits for our members, an 8% increase over the previous year. This funded over 750,000 hospital admissions across the country.
"That is a lot of people not waiting for surgery on public hospital waiting lists," Mr Levy said.
Prostheses continue to be an extremely expensive part of some surgery, with orthopaedic surgery such as hip and knee replacements incurring the largest costs.
"All up, an average hip or knee replacement can cost up to $20,000, while the latest implanted cardiac defibrillator can cost over $60,000", Mr Levy continued.
"To put this in proportion - you can pick up a medium size car for $20,000, while $60,000 is a around a year's wages for most people.
"It's important to prepare for the unexpected. The alternative to having private health insurance is having to pay a lump sum in one hit for elective surgery in a private hospital, or go onto a waiting list for a public hospital', Mr Levy said.
Medibank Private plans to release the Health Benefits report quarterly, with the next edition due in January.
ENDS
For further information please contact:
James Connors
Tel: 03 8622 5163 | Mob: 0433 992 677 | email: james_connors@medibank.com.au


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