Putting members’ health before profit

Not-for-profits call for all sides of politics to support prostheses reforms in response to damning international price data

Doctor pointing to scanSensitive pricing data released in April 2022 by the French has exposed the ongoing exploitation of Australian patients by big global multinational medical device companies.

The secretive French data, quietly released on an overseas website, is explosive, revealing massively inflated prices for pacemakers and artificial hips.

Matthew Koce, CEO of Members Health, the peak body for 26 of Australia’s not for profit or member owned health insurers, is urging all sides of politics to commit to reforms that put a stop to the medical technology industry’s practice of exploiting vulnerable Australians.

Members Health’s analysis of the latest data shows that in some instances, patients can expect to be charged $5,000 more for an identical medical device in Australia than in France.

According to a comparison of the prices listed in Australia and France, the world’s largest global manufacturers are charging a whopping 158 to 256 per cent more in Australia for hip replacement components. Pacemaker manufacturers are charging between 28 to 85 per cent more Down Under.

“We’re calling on all candidates at the 2022 Federal election to commit to reform a pricing scheme that effectively gives medical device companies a license to print money and generate massive profits at the expense of vulnerable Australians,” Mr Koce said.

The Commonwealth currently fixes prostheses costs for private health consumers through its ‘Prostheses List’, a list of more than 11,000 medical devices and implants.

“The regulation of medical device pricing is broken and putting healthcare affordability at serious risk during a major global pandemic. It is time for all sides of politics to put their cards on the table and commit to create a fairer system. A system that has the best interest of consumers at its heart and sets prices comparable to those in France to reduce the cost of medical bills.”

“As public hospital waiting lists expand, we are seeing more and more Australians value the choice and control that comes with private health insurance. But we can’t just let big multinational companies overcharge Aussies for an identical medical device that they sell at lower prices elsewhere.”

“Australia is so profitable to some of the multinational device companies that we hear they even describe it as ‘Treasure Island’.”

“While some important steps have been taken to fix the regulation of medical devices in Australia, the damning international data shows there is still a long way to go. It is crucial that whoever wins the 21 May ballot, acts decisively to complete the unfinished business of prostheses reform by delivering real savings to Australian health consumers.”

Members Health is the peak industry body for an alliance of 26 health funds that are not-for-profit or part of a member-owned group, regional or community based. They all share the common ethic of putting their members’ health before profit. Our funds represent the interests of more than 5 million Australians.

Download the media release and comparison data here

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