This story is available at: http://cathnews.acu.edu.au/208/123.php

Catholic Health says increased benefits essential to sustain private hospitals


Catholic Health Australia (CHA) is concerned by reports of a 40% increase in medical benefits paid by health insurers during the last financial year, saying that private hospitals are not receiving a large enough share of the funds to sustain their operations.

Instead, a disproportionate share of insurance benefits is being directed towards medical gap cover, according to an analysis by the Australian Health Insurance Association of recently released private health insurance figures.

CHA CEO Francis Sullivan says medical gap cover is "only part of the story".

"We've seen increases in nurses wages, the cost of pharmaceuticals, new technologies, allied health services and indemnity insurance, leading to overall inflation of over 5% annually in the health sector," he said. "Despite positive health fund membership figures, the cost pressures are not sustainable without increased benefits or patient fees."

"With nearly half the population privately insured, how do private hospitals, particularly not for profit hospitals, generate the capital to expand their capacity to meet the growing demand for private health care?" he said. "What measures should be put in place to ensure that all people with private health insurance have equitable access to a comprehensive range of services in the private sector?"

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22 Aug 2002