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23 Nov 2015

Submission to the MBS Review Taskforce

BCNA has made a submission to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce on how the Government can deliver a better Medicare system to Australians affected by breast cancer.

We are concerned with the high out-of-pocket costs women incur as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis.

To inform our submission, we undertook a survey with members of our Review & Survey Group on their experiences with Medicare. The submission was also informed by particular issues that have been raised by BCNA’s broader membership in recent years.

Our submission outlines three main concerns and includes a number of recommendations for the Taskforce to consider.

BCNA’s concerns

1. Women having treatment in the private health system are especially vulnerable to high out-of-pocket ‘gap’ payments for breast cancer treatment and care, even where a Medicare rebate exists.

2. There are a number of tests and treatments being recommended for women with breast cancer which currently do not attract a Medicare rebate, meaning women have to pay the full cost. These including: breast MRI scans, DXA bone mineral density scans, molecular profile testing (e.g. Oncotype DX) and lymphoedema treatment and compression garments

3. The rebates payable for many items on the MBS have not been increased in line with inflation or to reflect the realistic costs of providing these services. 

BCNA’s recommendations

  • The high out-of-pocket costs women experience must be taken into account in any review of the MBS system to ensure that women and their families do not experience further financial strain.
  • BCNA supports the retention of all items currently indicated for breast cancer that reflect current best practice. 
  • BCNA would like to see rebates increased for items which are currently being recommended for women with breast cancer to better reflect the true costs of providing these services.
  • BCNA strongly supports the extension of Medicare rebates to include items which are being recommended to women with breast cancer including:
    - DXA Bone Mineral Density Scans
    - Breast MRI
    - PET scans for women with locally advanced and metastatic breast cancer
  • BCNA supports the introduction of a Medicare rebate for the following breast cancer interventions:
    - Molecular testing such as the Oncotype DX test
    - Lymphoedema treatments and compression garments

Acknowledgements

BCNA would like to thank members of our Review & Survey group who participated in the survey.

BCNA thanks the following Consumer Representatives who reviewed our submission and provided feedback:

  • Geraldine Robertson
  • Natalie Halse
  • Gai Grayson
  • Heather Drum
  • Kym Berchtenbreiter

We also thank members of our Strategic Advisory Group for their assistance in reviewing this submission. 

More information