The Health News – 21 October 2015

Overview:
• Australia’s private health industry is too complex and drives consumers to lower-priced policies which lack adequate coverage, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found.

• One of the grieving families at the centre of a cluster of baby deaths at a Victorian hospital has criticised the State Government’s response to the issue, saying they are yet to get the answers they need. Stacey and Ross Caldera’s child was stillborn, one of 10 baby deaths at the Bacchus Marsh Hospital in 2013 and 2014 they were the subject to an independent investigation.

•  Some of Australia’s rugby union greats are taking part in a study to reveal any damage years of tackles may do to the brains and hearts. Former elite players Wallabies Simon Poidevin, John Eales and Owen Finegan are among those undergoing tests by researchers from the Heart Research Institute at Sydney University.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st October 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-20/private-health-insurance-system-failing-consumersi/6869742

Australia’s private health industry is too complex and drives consumers to lower-priced policies which lack adequate coverage, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found.

In its annual report on the industry, the ACCC said there are a number of market failures in private health insurance that impede consumers’ ability to make choices that are likely to be in their best interests.

The ACCC found the complexity of the system was central to most consumer complaints.

“A range of factors contribute to this complexity, including regulatory settings, the sheer number of policies available, the range of benefits and exclusions, preferred provider arrangements, policy variations and differing terminology between funds which makes comparison difficult,” the ACCC said.

Currently there are more than 20,000 different policies in the market being sold by the 34 registered health insurance providers, although more than 80 per cent of the market is captured by the five biggest insurers.

The industry generates revenues of more $21 billion with annual total profit of $1.5 billion.

Despite being the ACCC’s 16th review of the industry, many of the key concerns, such poor communication and information, remain entrenched.

The ACCC found regulatory incentives are driving consumers to lower-priced policies than they would prefer, with an emphasis on tax rather than health outcomes.

“Existing regulatory settings can change consumers’ incentives in purchasing private health insurance and drive insurers to offer products to primarily reduce consumers’ tax liabilities,” the report noted.

Despite the vast array of policy options in the market, consumers often remain rusted onto existing policies even when dissatisfied or planning a change.

In the past year there has been a 16 per cent rise in complaints to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, with a substantial spike centred on the quality and accuracy of advice provided over the phone or in branches.

The ACCC said there is evidence that insurers are encouraging consumers to downgrade their cover to secure cheaper premiums.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-20/bacchus-marsh-hospital-midwives-reading-ultrasound-manual/6868426

One of the grieving families at the centre of a cluster of baby deaths at a Victorian hospital has criticised the State Government’s response to the issue, saying they are yet to get the answers they need.

Stacey and Ross Caldera’s child was stillborn, one of 10 baby deaths at the Bacchus Marsh Hospital in 2013 and 2014 [they] were the subject to an independent investigation.

The couple rushed to the hospital when Ms Caldera became concerned that her baby had stopped moving in utero, despite repeated reassurances from the hospital that everything was fine.

Ms Caldera is concerned the treatment she received when she arrived at the hospital was botched.

“The [midwives] were trying to figure out how to work an ultrasound machine that was probably older than the hospital itself,” she said.

“It was just on the bedside and she bent down, she picked up the manual and she was reading it.”

Ms Caldera said it was probably about an hour and a half before she got to see a doctor.

The doctor could not find a heartbeat and told the couple to go home and return the following day for Ms Caldera’s scheduled caesarean.

When the couple returned, an ultrasound was conducted and the couple was given the devastating news that they had lost their child.

The couple said they had never received any answers about what happened to their child, who they named Akeirah.

A review of 10 stillbirths and newborn deaths at the hospital in 2013 and 2014 found that seven may have been avoidable.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-20/wallabies-sign-up-for-study-into-damage-from-contact-sports/6869836

Some of Australia’s rugby union greats are taking part in a study to reveal any damage years of tackles may do to the brains and hearts of former elite players.

Former Wallabies Simon Poidevin, John Eales and Owen Finegan are among those undergoing tests by researchers from the Heart Research Institute at Sydney University.

A total of 30 former international rugby union players will take part in the study, alongside 30 athletes who have played non-contact sports.

“They’re essentially volunteering their bodies, to help us understand what a lifetime of rugby does,” said head researcher Professor Stuart Grieve from Sydney University.

“We simply don’t know if there is a major problem or not.”

Advanced imaging technology will be used in the tests, providing data 10 times more detailed than previously available.

“Using these latest techniques we’ll be able to … provide some much needed hard data to inform recommendations around what constitutes safe sporting practice in Australia,” Professor Grieve said.

The first stage of the research will study the brain using a technique called multi-brand diffusion imaging, to detect changes in the brain circuits.

After undergoing the brain scan in a hospital in Sydney this week, Owen Finegan said he never considered the risks when packing down in the Wallaby scrum.

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