Government sticks with useless medical costs finder website

Article published 21 October 2020

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CONSIDER the Australian Government’s Medical Costs Finder website .

This government comparator website has been bagged by patients and doctors alike since it started up late last year.

However, this hasn’t stopped the Government from pouring a further $17 million into improving the website in October’s Budget.

The problem is that doctors’ participation is voluntary and will continue to be voluntary. As a result, the website cannot offer meaningful comparisons.

The Australian Patients Association is not against the website as such but points out that it “will be surprised if any additional doctors and specialists will voluntarily agree to sign up to list their fees”.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said it did not expect many doctors would publish their fees on the website, which was “a complete failure” and “should be abandoned”. The AMA’s position on this figures because fee transparency is not in the financial interest of doctors.

The website went live in December 2019 and was accessed by fewer than 10,000 people in the first six months.

A governmental comparator website funded in October’s Budget that may prove to be effective is a site for superannuation fund performance comparison. It will allow fund members to switch their savings and contributions to better performing funds.

It sounds good, but let’s hope that the participation of superannuation funds will be compulsory, not voluntary like the Medical Costs Finder.

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