The News – 23 March 2015

Overview

  • There are claims some Tasmanian schools could be breaching the Anti-Discrimination Act by failing to adequately support students with disabilities.
  • The latest report from the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) shows that general practice is the most efficient and cost effective part of the health system, but requires greater support to continue providing high quality primary health care to the Australian community.
  • Two of Australia’s biggest health insurers are cutting the amount they will refund patients for alternative therapies and gym memberships at the same time they are raising the cost of insurance.



News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 23rd March 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-21/schools-get-the-cane-over-disability-discrimination-complaints/6338046

There are claims some Tasmanian schools could be breaching the Anti-Discrimination Act by failing to adequately support students with disabilities.
The Tasmanian Disability Education Reform Lobby surveyed more than 100 parents after the first week of term and almost 50 per cent reported having had their support reduced this year.
The lobby’s Kristen Desmond said the complaints were continuing.
“We’re still hearing of things like [teacher aide] time going down or in some cases, students being asked to stay at home for a half day because the school simply doesn’t have the support to look after them,” she said.
Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks confirmed there had been a spike in similar complaints.

“It’s hard enough I think for people with disability to face the physical barriers in the environment and the attitudinal barriers without then being left behind in education,” she said.
State Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he was shocked by the reports, which come after an extra $2 million was allocated in last year’s budget to support students with disabilities.

The Tasmanian Disability Education Reform Lobby claimed parents were being forced to pull their children out of mainstream schools because of a drop in support for students will special needs.

A Ministerial Taskforce is currently examining the issue and will report back with recommendations at the end of June.
Mr Rockliff conceded there was room for improvement.

The Minister has agreed to meet with concerned parents next month.

https://ama.com.au/media/report-shows-general-practice-efficient-and-cost-effective

The latest report from the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) shows that general practice is the most efficient and cost effective part of the health system, but requires greater support to continue providing high quality primary health care to the Australian community.

AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said… that the NHPA Healthy Communities: Frequent GP attenders and their use of health services in 2012-13 report provides important data to understand the characteristics and use of health services by people who visit a GP frequently.
The report shows how frequent users of GP services are distributed, and how they differ from other patients in the number of GPs they visit, the cost barriers they face, and their demographic characteristics.
The report also provides insight into the degree with which frequent attenders also use other health services, including visiting emergency departments and being admitted to hospital.

“It shows that the people who most frequently attend their GP are generally unwell, and have complex and chronic conditions, which include arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancers, heart conditions, circulatory conditions, asthma, and mental health.
“Contrary to what was implied by some in the recent debate over co-payments, these patients are not frivolous users of the health system.

A/Prof Owler said the report highlights the importance of patients – especially patients with complex and chronic conditions – to have a regular GP to manage their conditions.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/consumers-squeezed-as-private-health-funds-cut-lifestyle-benefits-while-raising-premiums-20150321-1m4gmc.html

Two of Australia’s biggest health insurers are cutting the amount they will refund patients for alternative therapies and gym memberships at the same time they are raising the cost of insurance.

For years, insurers have been locked in a price and service war to woo customers by offering to pay a share of the costs of many “extras”, including more unconventional treatments such as reiki and Alexander technique.
But now NIB has cut the amount it will pay by $250 – from $400 to $150 – for “healthier lifestyle” benefits under its wellbeing extras cover.
The cuts come as NIB, the country’s fourth-biggest health insurer, joins other funds in lifting its premiums on April 1. NIB premiums will rise by an average 6.55 per cent.

As part of its changes, NIB will also cut the annual rebate for natural therapies – including naturopathy and herbalism – by $100, and cap massage claims at $150 a year.
An NIB spokesman said the company regularly reviewed its products and pricing.

NIB’s changes follow a similar move by the nation’s largest health fund, Medibank Private, in September last year.
In response to “high claims activity” in some areas of south-western Sydney, the company introduced a $100 annual limit on remedial massage.
Depending on their policy, members previously had access of up to $450 in rebates for a group of services including physiotherapy, chiropractic services and natural therapies, including remedial massage.

Medibank, which floated on the Australian Securities Exchange last November, will next month increase its premiums by an average of 6.59 per cent.

But Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said with premiums rising and refunds falling across the industry, customers should reconsider whether they really needed private health insurance at all, or whether they’d be better cutting the cover and banking the savings.

…[people are being urged] to use the government’s comparison website www.privatehealth.gov.au to ensure they were getting the best value.

This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.