Media releases

March 11, 2014

Most common private hospital admissions show value in health insurance usage

Growing numbers of joint replacement patients are choosing to skip public hospital waiting lists and have their surgery and rehabilitation performed privately, according to the latest Medibank Health Cost and Utilisation Report.

While childbirth remains the most common overnight procedure, the Report, which examines claims paid on behalf of members in the year to June 2013, reveals a 34% increase since 2010 in inpatient rehabilitation admissions, and a 107% increase in the number of rehabilitation services performed as same-day procedures. This phenomenon is linked to increases in admissions for knee replacements (up 15%), and hip replacements (up 12%) during the period.

"Our Medibank Health Cost and Utilisation Report shows Australian's value their private health insurance for the timely access it to procedures such as hip and knee replacements," said Medibank Executive General Manager - Private Health Insurance, Laz Cotsios.

"Many of the procedures for which we are seeing increased admissions are so-called 'elective' surgery but I'm sure for many waiting to have a knee or hip replacement they wouldn't share that sentiment."

In the public system, half of all knee replacement patients wait more than six and a half months for their procedure and 12% of patients wait over a year*, with long waits also for hip replacements. In contrast it is well-known private patients are admitted very quickly, meaning they can resume active and productive lives much sooner.

"The report also shows a significant increase in rehabilitation treatment. It appears that many more surgeries are now being followed by rehabilitation as part of the overall treatment plan. We need to make sure that significant shifts of this nature are properly monitored so that we can be assured that it is benefitting our members and enabling them to get back to full health quicker.

"Overall, what the Report reinforces is the value private health insurance provides for members. Whilst a member undergoing a hip replacement at an average cost of $27,990 followed by an inpatient rehabilitation admission averaging $10,000 will have some out-of-pocket expenses, the vast majority of costs are covered by Medibank. Not only are patients receiving good financial value for their premium but they can get on with their lives - something we all value," Mr Cotsios said.

*AIHW report on 'Australian Hospital Statistics 2011-12

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