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Neonatal care tops Medibank's list of most expensive claims

23 February 2015 - 1:53pm

It's no wonder why some healthcare issues are expensive to treat, with an incredible level of skill going into many operations and treatments. Fortunately, public healthcare removes these financial issues, allowing free treatment for a range of medical concerns.

For those who want more choice when it comes to their healthcare needs, the private model gives people the ability to choose their doctor, as well as where and when they want their treatment to be administered.

To many people, the difference between the two tiers is money; can they afford private care, or will state-funded treatment suffice.

Knowing which are the most expensive treatments can be an interesting insight into the true value of health insurance, then. It also shines a light on why many choose to take out private health insurance, with the aim being to find a standard of care beyond that which can be found from Medicare.

The results are in

Medibank, the largest health fund in Australia, has recently announced the most expensive claims taken out by its policyholders. Care for newborns tops this list as the most costly area of care covered by the health insurer, according to its Health Cost and Utilisation Report released last month.

The health fund paid out benefits of $740,394 to help with the care of newborn babies in the 2014 financial year. In fact, seven of the 10 most expensive hospital treatments were in neonatal care - totalling almost $2.7 million in outlay by this one insurance provider.

Meanwhile, childbirth was the most common overnight medical procedure covered by Medibank with 21,500 admissions last year through the health fund - perhaps unsurprising considering the recent spike in Australia's population.

The procedures and treatment needed during childbirth proved to be the most quickly escalating cost, too. Compared to Medibank's 2011 report, the procedure has cost the insurer 15.2 per cent more this year as expenses rise.

The result no doubt puts the emphasis on creating a strong family health insurance plan that covers the entire timeline of pregnancy, labour, postnatal care, as well as the child's healthcare needs from then onwards.

Understanding the cost of neonatal care

Medibank's Chief Customer Officer, Laz Cotsios, suggested that the results of the most recent report may surprise some who undervalue the costs associated with private health insurance.

"When people have a hospital experience, many don't realise what goes on behind the scenes in order to maintain the affordability of healthcare," he began.

"For example, the average member out of pocket for an overnight rehabilitation procedure was $30. However, the average total cost for the procedure was $10,511. This clearly demonstrates the value of having private health insurance, in addition to the timely access it permits to hospital treatment."

Evaluating private health insurance

With the cost of private health insurance rising, such reports shine a light on the real cost of a policy - particularly one that caters for neonatal care.

Many in the private healthcare industry argue that rising hospital admissions are putting a strain on the public system to cope with emergency situations. The number of patients admitted to hospitals has certainly increased, by 17 per cent since 2011, giving some fuel to the argument of those who want to see more acceptance of the private health industry model.

If you are confused by the prospect of private medical care, or are looking at adding new additions to your family and would like to be covered throughout the whole process, your health insurer will be able to give you impartial and specific advice.

At HICA, we are on your side and ready to help create a health insurance plan that works for you. To discuss this further contact 1300 44 22 01.