Specialist prices neglect care for others

When did doctors start prioritising money over patient care? It seems that the medical industry is gradually turning into a money-sucking machine with bedside manner and empathy close to extinction.

The AMA has recommended a $2 increase in GP fees so that a standard consultation will be $78 as of November 1st. The government rebate has been frozen at $37.05 since July 2014, so the out-of-pocket expense will now be $40.95. That is unless your doctor is one of the unsung heroes of the medical profession and actually bulk bills. GPs are arguing that the $2 increase is necessary to pay for increases in business costs since the government hasn’t increased rebates since 2014. This argument is understandable.

But compared to the costs associated with seeing a specialist, GP costs are hardly concerning. I see a dermatologist every six months for her to repeat a script for my acne. This appointment costs a staggering $153 before the Medicare rebate. And just the other day I saw a Gynecologist who charged $185 (before Medicare rebate) to simply book me in for basic surgery. I wasn’t even examined. While the fact that these people specialize in something is understandable, the justification behind charging someone $185 to say “you need this operation so here are my available days and times” is unconscionable.

According to Consumers Health forum chief Leanne Wells, Australians are paying a higher amount of health costs after rebates than other OECD countries. This produces barriers for those with chronic and complex medical conditions who cannot afford appropriate treatments.

Outside of public hospitals, most health services are essentially private businesses and as such, they can charge whatever they want. And the prices that each specialist charges are never discussed with a GP when writing a referral.

It’s basic business to know that the more competition there is in a market, the lower the prices for products and services will be. But with such high entry barriers for specialist medical jobs there’s not much competition. Instead, injured and sick people are essentially competing with others to see these specialists. It’s immoral, greedy and insensitive to be charging an unnecessary price in a profession that is supposed to be centered on care and helping others.

So if you’re driving a Mercedes Benz and you’re earning six figures a year, good luck convincing a poor university student or a single mum that those prices are acceptable.

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