Specialist Plastic Surgeons urge Government to block ‘managed care’ proposal
2nd June, 2021
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) believes a proposal by Honeysuckle Health, (a merger of NIB Health funds and a US health services company, Cigna) to form a ‘buying group’ is deeply troubling for the future of Australian healthcare.
“What is being touted as a cost saving venture to collectively negotiate and manage contracts with healthcare providers (including private hospitals and medical specialists) is effectively the introduction of US-style managed healthcare by stealth,” says ASPS President Dr Dan Kennedy.
Cigna is a multi-billion dollar US company. By combining with NIB Health funds, the buying group would wield enormous power in the Australian healthcare market.
“It would reduce competition and choice by concentrating market power in the hands of the insurer. Specialists and hospitals could feel compelled to sign up or risk being blocked from the referral stream.
“This threatens freedom of choice for patients to choose who treats them, where they are treated and inserts a third party into the doctor-patient relationship.
“Ultimately it not only takes the power from the consumer to choose their specialist, it also takes power from the specialist to determine the most appropriate treatment for the individual patient with the ultimate result being poorer outcomes for patients and better bottom lines for the health insurers.
“This is one-size-fits-all medicine rather than tailored medical care for the individual as it should be. We hear the horror stories from the United States where patients are told their insurance won’t cover them unless they see a doctor that is part of their network, or will question, and in some cases, refuse to fund tests or treatments their treating physicians believes are in their best interests.
“It removes autonomy from the doctors whereby patients’ needs are being determined by administrators not clinicians.
“We see this as the first step on the slippery slope to a second-rate health care system that benefits shareholders at the expense of the Australian people and we urge the Federal Government to block this proposal,” said Dr Kennedy.