AMA Vice President, Dr Gary Speck, said today that it was outrageous for health funds to shift the blame for imminent private health insurance premium increases to doctors.
Chief Executive of the Australian Health Insurance Association (AHIA), Dr Michael Armitage, is reported in The Daily Telegraph
today saying that health funds should not pay doctors who make 'medical mistakes' in operations.
Dr Armitage is quoted as saying this 'would relieve pressure on health fund premiums' and 'why should we [health funds] pay for poor care?'.
Dr Speck said that the health insurers have no expertise in judging the clinical performance of doctors or hospitals.
'It looks like the health insurers are playing their annual game of shifting the blame for their premium increases,' Dr Speck said.
'It is time the health insurers took responsibility for the quality of their products and their increasing cost to working families. It's time they took a look at their own bloated management expenses.
'Australian patients receive the highest quality medical care in the world. Medical errors are few and isolated and there is no evidence they are a factor in the rising cost of health insurance premiums.
'A poor medical outcome can occur for many reasons even with the most skilful medical care and Dr Armitage's simplistic scare mongering will not contribute to improving quality and safety.
'The demands on our health care system are well known. If health insurers are paying more for health care it is because more health care is being delivered in the private sector.
'Australia has a very safe and high quality healthcare system that is constantly being enhanced to make it even better. We also have a sound system of medical indemnity that compensates people for medical misadventure.
'Patients can be confident that they will get the best possible care from their doctors.
'They are less confident that they are getting value for money from their health insurers, especially when they get slugged with higher premiums year after year,' Dr Speck said.