Consumers are bearing the brunt of information poverty, inefficiencies and cost overruns of fragmented service delivery. They are concerned about increasing out-of-pocket expenses and costs associated with their healthcare. For example, in 2010-11 AIHW estimated that $24.3 billion of health spending came directly from the pockets of consumers; an average of more than a thousand dollars per person. This is twice as high as in the UK and New Zealand.
Nancy is only able to compare the prices charged by her healthcare providers in a limited way, and lacks the information to make an informed decision about which specialist to choose. Which one has the best track record of success? Do the differences in prices between specialists reflect differences in quality, or something else?
This information is crucial: a hip replacement is not an inexpensive operation.
- Out-of-pocket expenses of consumers have rapidly increased, and this trend has continued over the last ten years.
- Fragmented billing and payment methods create inefficiencies that have an impact on consumer expense.
- Gap payments to providers have increased significantly over the years. There is no regulation on upper limits for fees charged by providers.
- Expenses on over-the-counter (OTC) and alternative medicines are largely unaccounted for in the health budget; they are estimated to have increased significantly over the last 10 years.