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BCNA News 02 Mar 2019

New website great first step towards cost transparency

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) welcomes the Liberal National Government’s announcement to develop a website which will provide Australians with greater transparency on the costs of specialist services.

The website, which comes as a result of recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Out of Pocket Costs, will show specialists’ fees in one location to enable patients and GPs to consider costs when determining their choice of specialists.

BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti said BCNA along with other organisations such as Cancer Council Australia has been calling for more transparency of costs following a breast cancer diagnosis for a number of years and said today’s announcement showed that the Government is listening to Australians’ concerns around bill shock.

“Health Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement is a great first step towards increased transparency, standardisation of costs and improved patient understanding of the financial impact of any treatment prior to decisions being made,” Kirsten said.

“BCNA knows of too many cases where patients have not been informed of the expected out of pocket costs leading to complete financial devastation that lasts long after treatment has finished.

“We also hear from many people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer who have had to borrow money, access super early, sell investments, remorgage their home or increase their credit card limit just to cover their costs.”

“What very few consumer understand is that a higher fee does not indicate a better quality of service or health outcome.”

BCNA’s Financial Impact of Breast Cancer report clearly demonstrated the outrageous variations in out of pocket costs particularly for those who chose to go private. The greatest of these has been seen in surgery and radiation.

“It is important that consumers are not left to have the responsibility of starting all the financial discussions – the responsibility should sit firmly with the health professional but this website will certainly help to better educate and support patients in a time of complete upheaval.”

“Breast cancer is not something you plan for – so we need to give everyone the right tools to make the very best decision for them physically, emotionally and financially. And that is why BCNA is here – every step of the way.”

Kirsten said she was now keen to work with the Government to ensure that all clinicians provide their costs to the national website.

“We look forward to playing a role in making sure women and men diagnosed with breast cancer have access to the information before their first appointment. We know that once you have met your healthcare team it can be difficult to ask financial questions or seek a second opinion, particularly where money is concerned.