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AMA Urges Doctors to be Upfront about Fees

The AMA will this week send education material on informed financial consent (IFC) to more than 56,000 doctors nationwide in an effort to encourage// greater openness between doctors and their patients about fees for medical care and procedures.

Informed financial consent means the patient is aware ahead of time of the medical fee they have to pay, as well as what, if anything, they can expect to recoup from Medicare and any private health insurance they might hold.

The AMA campaign – ‘Let’s Talk About Fees’ – is supported by the Federal Government and was launched in Canberra today by Health Minister, Tony Abbott, and AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal.

Running for twelve months, the campaign is aimed to raise the IFC rate, already well over 80 per cent, to as high a level as possible given the difficulties of obtaining IFC for non-elective procedures.

Dr Haikerwal said the AMA is committed to ensuring that, whenever possible, patients will know exactly how much they have to pay for their medical procedure.

“Our aim is to get as close as possible to 100 per cent informed financial consent for elective cases, where there is adequate notice to enable this to happen properly,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“We’re talking about a face-to-face discussion between doctor and patient of all fees incurred for a procedure.

“While doctors need to be open with patients about their fees, we are also encouraging patients to ask their doctor about all the costs associated with their treatment.

“Achieving total IFC for all medical procedures performed in Australia would be an impossible task.

“Sometimes it’s simply not possible for that to happen, especially in an emergency, or when the nature of a scheduled operation changes dramatically during the procedure.

“In disciplines such as pathology, anaesthesia, and for the work performed by surgical assistants, it is often diffi
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