Submission on Private health Insurance Amendment (GP Services) Bill 2014

7 Jan 2015

On 17 June 2014, the Senate referred the Private Health Insurance Amendment (GP Services) Bill 2014 to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee (the Committee) for inquiry and report by 4 September 2014.  The Bill was introduced into the Parliament as a private senator's bill by Senator Richard Di Natale on 27 March 2014.  The Bill sought to amend the Private health Insurance Act 2007 to clarify that private health insurers may not enter into arrangements with primary care providers that provide preferential treatment to their insured members.

The AMA while concerned about the interventionist approach to funding taken by some private health insurers (PHIs) believes that there is scope for PHIs to explore the potential for greater engagement with general practice to improve the coordination of patient care, ensure care is provided in the most appropriate clinical settings, and avoid unnecessary hosptial admisisons. In this context, the AMA in its submission to the Committee emphasises its support for a limited role for private health insurance in general practice.  The submission outlines the criteria for any model of private health insurance funding in general practice, which includes:

  • recognition and support for the usual GP as the central coordinator of patient care;
  • a collaborative approach to care, with the usual GP retaining overall responsiblity for the care of the patient;
  • appropriate access to care based on a patient's clinical needs;
  • preservation of patient choice; and
  • protection of clinical autonomy.