The AMA and the Morrison government have launched the Informed Financial Consent (IFC) information guide with the objective of demystifying the costs associated with how health care is funded and ultimately what it will cost for patients.
The guide includes an Informed Financial Consent Form for doctors and patients to use together; information on fees and medical gaps; and questions for patients to ask their doctors about costs.
Although the guide was an AMA initiative, it has since gained traction and been developed in collaboration with the medical colleges.
National AMA President Dr Tony Bartone said his organisation supported and actively encouraged full transparency of doctors’ fees.
“We unreservedly condemn egregious billing, which occurs in a very small percentage of cases. In fact, the AMA is taking extra steps to help patients understand medical fees,” he said.
The guide breaks down the costs of medical services, which could potentially shape patient choice when it comes to which health care provider.
“The guide explains to patients that the same doctor performing the same procedure can be paid significantly different rates by each fund. This is often the untold story behind patient out-of-pocket costs, and one that is hidden by high levels of no gap and known gap billing statistics.”
While the guide is focused on the specific prices of services, the AMA hopes it will empower patients to develop greater financial literacy to “be equal partners in fee conversations with their doctors.”
Alongside the guide, the Health Department hopes to have a website up and live by the end of year, focusing on transparency of specialist fees, MBS benefits and gap payments.
There is no obligation for healthcare providers to be in the guide or to make their prices transparent.
However, Health Minister Greg Hunts added:
“Those who don’t, will have a very clear light shone upon them, and they will have to explain why they don’t want to participate. I do expect doctors to participate and we’ve had a very positive response. Medical organisations have been the leaders in this because they want to make sure that anybody who has egregious practices is exposed.”