You may want to think twice before cancelling your private health insurance fund.
A new report has revealed that more people are using private health insurance in both private and public hospitals to fund all or part of their admission in a bid to decrease wait times for elective surgery.
While public patients had a median wait time of 42 days for elective surgery in a public hospital, the wait time was halved for patients who used their private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission.
The report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) showed elective surgery waiting times to public hospitals varied greatly based on the source of funding.
Although Admitted patient care 2015-16: Australian hospital statistics uncovered consistent growth in admissions for both public and private hospitals, it found the median waiting time for admission to a public hospital for elective surgery was 38 days.
AIHW spokesperson George Bodilsen said public patients had a median wait time of 42 days for elective surgery in a public hospital.
“It was 20 days for patients who used a private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission,” Bodilsen said.
There was further and significant variation on wait times recorded in the report but again these were dependent on the funding source as well as the type of surgery performed.
Other findings showed there were more than 10 million admissions to Australia’s hospitals in 2015-16 and 59 per cent of those occurred in public hospitals, reflecting the steady growth recorded in public hospital admissions.
Growth in admissions for both public and private hospitals over the last five years was around 3.5 per cent on average per year, however Bodilsen said the reported showed the growth seen in private hospital admissions was slightly ahead of public.
“(They) were up by 3.7 per cent and 3.3 per cent on average yearly, respectively,” he said.
While admissions were up, the report discovered a larger gap between growth in public patients and growth in patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission.
“In the five years to 2015-16, admission for public patients rose by an average of 2.9 per cent each year, compared with 5.5 per cent for patients who used private health insurance to fund their admission,” said Bodilsen.
“In public hospitals, 83 per cent of admissions, or 5.2 million, were for public patients.”
The report also revealed that nearly 900,000, or around 14 per cent of patients, used their private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission.