Private health funds more hospital visits

(Australian Associated Press)

Private health insurance is funding more hospital visits than a decade ago, increasing 5.6 per cent on average each year since 2006.

A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released on Wednesday shows funded hospitalisations in public hospitals grew 9.6 per cent on average each year.

In 2006-07 they represented 8.2 per cent, rising to 13.9 per cent in 2015-16.

Private hospital visits funded by health insurance also grew from 80 per cent in 2006-07 to 83 per cent in 2015-16.

That’s a rise of 4.9 per cent on average each year.

Visits funded by private health insurance in public hospitals were more likely to be for patients under 19 years and aged over 75.

Those with private health insurance waited 20 days for elective surgery compared with 42 days for public patients, according to the median waiting time.

“When looking at knee replacement surgery, the median waiting time for private health insurance-funded patients was 76 days, compared with 203 days for public patients,” AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves said.

“Private health insurance-funded patients were more likely to be categorised as needing this surgery relatively urgently, with 43 per cent requiring knee replacement surgery within 90 days.”

That is compared to 25 per cent of public patients.


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