Cancer specialists to be first targets of fee transparency website

By Michael Woodhead

4 Jul 2019

Cancer specialists will be the first to be included in the government’s fee transparency website for medical practitioners that will launch in January 2020.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt says the website will reveal the doctors who charge exhorbitant fees through the private system and will initially cover practitioners working in fields of cancer treatment and obstetrics, with disclosures on how much they’re charging each patient.

“We’re doing it in conjunction with the AMA. They are having their members agree to participate in a process where if you’re starting a process of treatment an informed financial consent agreement. So you will actually know from the doctor what your total cost is likely to be, if anything,” said Mr Hunt.

He said the transparency website will also show the average fees for a particular procedure or treatment, so that patients will be able to “compare like with like”.

“And we will be very clear that if doctors are not participating- these are the doctors that are in, and these are the doctors that are not.”

However Mr Hunt said the website was not designed to show whether an individual doctor’s fees were appropriate.

“Well I take a very cautious view about what I call exorbitant fees. [The] Chief Medical Officer has been absolutely clear, without referring to particular individuals, that fees do not necessarily equate to quality.

“They do not necessarily produce better outcomes. And we will make sure that for the first time, the public will have genuine choice and the ability to compare, but also the informed financial consent agreements for their particular treatment with their particular doctor, so as they can see what if, any fees, that they will face.”

Mr Hunt said he did not wish to focus on individual doctors in the controversy about high fees for cancer treatments, but acknowledged he had asked celebrity surgeon Dr Charlie Teo to participate in the transparency website.

I have spoken with him and I said: a very strong sign would be if you were to do this; and he said [he] would very happily do that.”

“He has indicated that he would [participate] and I welcome that. I think that would be a very strong sign to other doctors, other surgeons. We would like to see all of the medical practitioners in Australia become a part of this system,” said Mr Hunt.

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