The National Rural Health Alliance — Australia’s peak non-government organisation for rural and remote health — has welcomed an announcement from the recently convened Ministerial Advisory Committee on out-of-pocket costs about its intention improve transparency for consumers.
With bulk-billing services less common outside of major cities, alliance chief executive Mark Diamond said rural and remote consumers were disproportionately impacted by additional costs for medical treatment, which were not covered by health insurance or Medicare.
‘‘Out-of-pocket costs for medical services have clearly become an increasing concern for consumers, and it’s important that the additional challenges faced by people in rural and remote areas of Australia — due to lack of choice when it comes to service access — are acknowledged and addressed,’’ he said.
The alliance is working in close collaboration with the committee’s designated consumer representative body, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF), to ensure the views and circumstances of the seven million people living in rural and remote areas of Australia are taken into consideration by the committee.
To this end, the alliance is urging people to speak out about the extent and impact of out-of-pocket medical expenses in non-metropolitan settings, through contributing to a national online survey, established by the CHF, to strengthen the voice of consumers and inform advocacy on the issue.
●The CHF survey on out-of-pocket medical costs is open until today and can be accessed at: chf.org.au/out-pocket-pain