Hearts, Ears and Joints top of prosthesis list
Cutting edge medical devices such as Australia's own bionic ears and cardiac defibrillators head the list of Medibank Private's top 10 Prostheses Procedures.
The most expensive procedures with prostheses paid out by Medibank Private in 2006-07 involved operations on the heart, restoring hearing or joint replacements.
Topping the list are cardiac defibrillators - by far the most expensive single medical prosthesis in regular use in Australia, costing almost $60,000 to be implanted. The device is designed to detect life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia and correct it by delivering a jolt of electricity, much the same as the more familiar external defibrillators.
Cochlear implants were second, costing nearly $30,000 for an implanted device. The Australian designed cochlear implant is credited with restoring hearing in thousands of adults and children.
Medibank Private Managing Director Mr George Savvides said 'prostheses such as these are crucial to healthcare and can change peoples' lives.
'Modern medicine is not just about prolonging life, more often it is about dramatically improving one's quality of life.
'For parents of deaf children early access to a device such as a Cochlear implant is necessary to ensure the child develops at the same rate as their peers and with the same level of confidence,' he said.
The list shows the most common prosthesis procedures are hip, knee and shoulder joint replacements. These operations mean a restored quality of life to the thousands of people who have regained their mobility.
But despite the frequency of the operations, even joint replacements remain a very high cost procedure.
'What this report shows is the unavoidable fact that healthcare is expensive,' Mr Savvides continued.
'The odds are at some point in our lives you will need to go to hospital. And if you need one of these devices it can be extremely expensive.
'$30,000 is the cost of a new car. $60,000 is more than a year's wages for many 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 your elective surgery, or go on to a public hospital waiting list', Mr Savvides said.
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