I have a confession. I have been living in Australia for a decade and worked within medical recruitment for eight years, but I still am confused about who pays for what with healthcare provision.
I remember visiting the GP for the first time and was told the appointment would be bulk-billed. I had no idea what that meant. To me, bulk billing sounded expensive and it was only later I found out that there was no charge. I’ve also seen a private GP and the cost varied wildly depending on what I was seeing them for.
I remember trips to the dentist and being totally confused about what dent in my wallet I could expect. Sometimes my private health insurance would cover the bill completely, sometimes partially and sometimes the receptionist would try her luck and swipe the insurance card to see.
What part should transparency play in the provision of healthcare? I’ve been lucky to not have to worry about paying medical bills, but wind back to my early 20s and it would have been a different story. Then I might have been reluctant to visit the dentist or reluctant to seek specialist treatment if I did not have certainty upfront with costs.
Private health insurance choices are also completely confusing. I know I won’t need a new hip (just yet), but it seems to tempt fate to not get coverage for everything else. I almost want to sit with my GP and go through a checklist to choose the appropriate coverage! I won’t even start to mention levies, surcharges or rebates.
Wouldn’t a clearer system where costs are more transparent be of benefit to everyone? What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how the system could be better?