Famed neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo has agreed to make funds charged for surgery publicly available on the Federal Government’s planned specialist fees websites, just weeks after Health Minister Greg Hunt expressed his concern over the high prices being charged by Australian doctors.
The coveted surgeon, who helped to save the life of a 12-year-old girl suffering with advanced stages of brain cancer, reportedly told Hunt he would share the amounts charged to patients via the planned website, according to the The Sydney Morning Herald .
The service was initially announced by Hunt in March with an aim to avoid “bill shock” and reduce the costly prices currently being charged across the country.
“I have spoken with [Teo] and I said: “A very strong sign would be if you were to do this’, and he said ‘no, I would very happily do that’,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports he told Sky News this week.
Hunt reportedly added: “We would like to see all of the medical practitioners in Australia become part of this system.”
The announcement follows comments made by the health minister last month in which he expressed his concern that a small number of Australian specialists were charging excessive fees to some patients requiring life-changing surgery, so much so that it caused them significant financial harm or to rely on crowdfunding to cover medical costs.
In a statement issued to The Age he said at the time: “It is my expectation, and the expectation of the leaders of the medical profession, that out-of-pocket costs incurred during private hospital treatment are modest, justifiable and proportionate to the circumstances of the patient.”
Teo – who often takes on complex or risky medical procedures that other surgeons won’t – was recently forced to defend the amount he charges patients after more than 100 different online crowdfunding pages asked for donations to cover costs for his services.
The neurosurgeon was specifically criticised after the family of 12-year-old Amelia ‘Millie’ Lucas set a crowdfunding target of $100,000 to cover the $120,000 required for Teo to operate on the child’s brain tumour at a private hospital in Sydney.
Dr Charlie Teo defends the high cost of his procedures, instead putting the onus on other neurosurgeons who won't swallow their egos and says "I would do it free of charge" if Australia's healthcare system covered the costs. #9Today pic.twitter.com/mwjmuMU8Se
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) May 28, 2019
Speaking on Today last month, Teo said that while some patients do pay in excess of $100,000 for surgery, the money doesn’t just go to him or his medical team. He said in the case of the $120,000 the Lucas family raised, $80,000 went to the private hospital and the remaining $40,000 was shared between the surgeon, the assistant, the anaesthetist, the pathologist, the radiologist and radiographer.
“It’s not that great amount to each individual person,” he said at the time, noting he would end up with just $8,000.
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