HCF supports focus on out of pocket costs – but more work on health service efficiency required

Thursday 4 April 2019, 9pm – HCF, Australia’s largest and most trusted not for profit health fund,has commended both sides ofthe Federal parliament for their focus on out of pocket costs in the healthcare system but has urged a greater emphasis on system efficiencies and appropriate incentives in the health system.

HCF welcomed the announcement earlier in the week by the Federal government that $7.2 million will be allocated toa website to increase transparency in the way medical specialist service costs.HCF already provides its members with accessto a portal that provides information on likely specialist fees and no-gap scheme participants.

“We are pleased to see that the Government is committed to minimising ‘bill shock’for Australian consumersin regard to medical specialist services,” said HCF CEO, Sheena Jack.

HCF also commended the Opposition for focusing on out of pocket costs in its budget reply on Thursday evening where Bill Shorten announced a reduction in the out of pocket expensesfor Australian cancer patientsby extending Medicareprovisions to cover cancer-related scans (MRI’s etc) and other cancer servicesincluding specialist consultations.Bill Shorten described this as a “$2.3B Medicare cancer plan”.

“Reducing out of pocket expenses, increasing access to servicesand improving transparency around fees is a major focus for HCF,including cancer patients” said Ms Jack. “We look forward to working with the government of the day –whatever side of politics that may be - on new approaches to controlling out of pocket costs.”

HCF’s own research shows fees can vary widely between medical specialists. This makes it difficult for consumers to make informed decisions when selecting healthcare providersand drives unpredictable out of pocket costs. This all happens in a context where cost does not necessarily reflect quality.

Notwithstanding the positive focus on cancer, HCF isalsourging a greater focus on other elements of the Australian health systemfor the future. Key issues include improving efficiencies in the health system,avoiding state/federal cost shifting and protecting the value of the private health insurance rebate and thereby its impact on membership.

“All of these issues are crucial to a sustainable Australian health system in the future and we are keen to see a greater political focus on these areas. There was very little said in either of the budget announcements on these topics. We have ideas and innovations that touch on these and we look forward to progressing them in the future,” said Ms Jack.

“It’s important that government and industry continute to address the affordability challengein healthcare as the cost of services inevitably rise. We need to ensure that participation rates remain high in private health insurance to keep premiums lower for members,”concluded Ms Jack.


For more information about HCF’s out-of-pocket expenses initiative visit https://www.hcf.com.au/locations/find-a-participating-provider

Issued on behalf of HCF by Palin Communications. Media enquiries to:


HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and approximately 10,000 providers participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health. To learn more about HCF go to hcf.com.au/about-us