Media release

AMA urges St Vincent’s and nib to put the needs of patients first

The Australian Medical Association is urging St Vincent’s and nib to get back to the negotiating table to strike a deal that puts the needs of patients first, while also delivering a reasonable return for all parties and recognising the rising costs of providing quality care.

Private health insurance concept blocks

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the breakdown in negotiations over a new funding agreement between the private hospital network and the private health fund would leave patients caught in the middle.

“Patients are ultimately the ones who suffer from this sort of situation, as they will likely face higher out-of-pocket costs for treatment at St Vincent’s network of private hospitals after 3 October this year,” Professor Robson said.

“These disputes undermine the confidence that Australians have in private health insurance arrangements, particularly as we continue to see significant premium increases at a time people are facing significant cost-of-living pressures.”

Private hospitals, like most businesses, are facing much higher input costs. In response to the issues faced by the sector, the Department of Health and Aged Care commissioned a Private Hospital Sector Financial Health Check to examine its viability and sustainability.

It is critical for nib and St Vincent’s to keep patients and clinicians informed, explaining the complex transition arrangements that apply once the current agreement ends.

Professor Robson said significant reform was needed to ensure the sustainability of the private health system well into the future.

“The AMA is calling for the creation of an independent Private Health System Authority (PHSA) to ensure the sector is appropriately regulated and patients get real value for money from their private health insurance,” Professor Robson said.

“A PHSA can be a vehicle for meaningful reform, while helping to solve disputes like the one we are seeing with nib and St Vincent’s.

“In the meantime, the AMA urges the two parties to reach an agreement for the sake of patients.”

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