Health-premiums cap would leave insurers on brink of insolvency

A proposal by the federal opposition for a 2-per-cent cap on health insurance premium increases in the event of it winning office would lead to eight insurers operating at a loss in the first year and put three on the brink of insolvency in the second year, according to an industry analysis.

The biggest health policy from Bill Shorten to date — capping premium increases at roughly half the current rate for two years to allow for another inquiry — would also put the more dominant health funds at a competitive ­advantage.

The Australian newspaper also reports slashing premium revenue would likely prompt insurers to reduce benefits and payments, undermining several years of reforms before a Labor government would even be in a position to ­respond to an inquiry by the Productivity Commission.

Industry body Private Healthcare Australia commissioned an analysis of data on the sector and the potential impact of the proposed cap. The analysis suggests eight insurers would be in deficit at their current level of expenditure growth in year one of such a cap. In year two, 15 funds would be in deficit — three on the brink of insolvency if hit with growth in costs or claims.

By | July 1st, 2018|Health insurance|

Medical students renew call for check of health of refugees and asylum seekers

The Australian Medical Students’ Association, the peak representative body of Australia’s 17,000 medical students, has welcomed news that a refugee from Nauru with a terminal diagnosis of lung cancer has been transferred to Australia for appropriate palliative care.

Both the Australian Border Force and the Department of Home Affairs had previously refused the transfer.

Ms Adele Evans, the coordinator of AMSA Crossing Borders, AMSA’s advocacy group for refugee and asylum seeker health, on 25 June said the health-care services on Nauru are not equipped to take care of the man.

“The end of a man’s life is not a time for politics. He has the right to treatment and pain relief in Australia,” Ms Evans said.

Patient’s right of care

“ABF and DoHA have acknowledged this patient’s right to care in Australia, and we hope to see continuing of treatment of other refugees under Australia’s care.

“The man’s case is not unique. There are many other refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres who are receiving inadequate health care,” Ms Evans said.

AMSA believes that asylum-seekers’ health, especially their mental health, continues to deteriorate as they are indefinitely detained

“Australia is failing to provide refugees and asylum seekers with access to appropriate health care,” Ms Evans said. “DoHA has repeatedly claimed that refugees and asylum seekers in detention

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By | July 1st, 2018|Legal|

Ulysses comments …


Western Civilisation Part 2

The dispute between the Ramsay Centre and the Australian National University continues unabated.

It’s now been revealed that six weeks of intense negotiations between the two organisations have failed to end the current impasse between them.

On one side, Ramsay Centre, is its chairman John Howard (yes, the sometime prime minister), reportedly digging in his heels for the right to approve staff appointments to teach the course in Western Civilisation, monitor content of the course as well as veto curriculum decisions, and, get this one, have representatives actually sit in on classes to do “health checks’ on content.

On the other side is ANU’s vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt, who has walked away from $3 billion funding from Ramsay Centre to establish and run the course, in the interests of “academic freedom” above a pile of money.

The University of Sydney is now in talks to see if it can land the money, but surely it will follow the fine example of ANU and, if there are to be such childish attacks on academic freedom, tell Ramsay Centre what it can do with the money – sideways if it likes.


Royal Commission

Hopefully, in between patients/clients you’ve been able to have a squizz at the best show in town – the ‘Royal Commission into Misconduct

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By | July 1st, 2018|Comment|

Optometry Australia’s membership down 25%

Optometry Australia’s membership is down by about 25 per cent since it claimed to have more than 95 per cent of all registered optometrists as members.

OA now claims 80 per cent membership, however some quick arithmetic in the light of figures released by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency figures published in March 2018 indicate it is more like 76 per cent of registered optometrists.

‘Peak body’ used to be a fair claim

Not so long ago, Optometry Australia (or the Australian Optometrical Association or any of the succession of names over the years it chose to operate under) used to make fair claim to being the peak organisation for optometrists in Australia, whether it was dealing with governments, health departments, other professions, the public or anyone else.

However, while that claim may still be a reasonable one, it is starting to look a little shaky.

Optometry Australia itself, in its submission prior to the Federal Budget 2018-19 stated its membership is 80 per cent of registered optometrists in Australia.

An actual membership figure was not provided (it rarely has been), however figures published in March 2018 by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency show there were 5521 registered optometrists in Australia at that time, meaning about 4,200 members of Optometry Australia.

What has happened?

What has

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By | June 24th, 2018|Associations|

Don’t fly blind when considering stem-cell treatments for eyes: RANZCO and SCA

Concerned about patients accessing stem-cell treatments for eye conditions that have not been subjected to appropriate clinical trials and approvals, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and Stem Cells Australia, have joined up to launch an informative patient-information leaflet for people considering such treatments.

For a new stem-cell treatment, patients are advised to ensure it is part of an ethically-approved clinical trial.

The patient-information resource is designed to help patients make more-informed decisions about their eye care by encouraging them to ask five important questions about stem cells for eyesight before undergoing any form of stem cell treatment for ocular disease:

  • What are stem cells and how can they help?
  • What are the safety concerns?
  • Is there evidence that stem cell therapies work?
  • Stem cell treatments are still under investigation, so what does that mean for me?
  • How can I make an informed decision about my options?

Locally and internationally stem cell research is at the cutting edge and is attracting media attention. A recent Washington Post article, highlighted the fact that clinics are emerging offering high-risk procedures that are not yet scientifically proven:

RANZCO initiated the position paper identifying a role in guiding the Australian and New Zealand public around discriminating between evidence-based treatments and those that have not yet been

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By | June 24th, 2018|Research|

Specsavers tops $1bn in annual sales

Specsavers’ optometry/optical dispensing and audiology stores sales in Australia and New Zealand for the first time topped $1 billion during the company’s financial year ended 31 February 2018.

The figure for Australia was $1,013 million (£569.5 million), while New Zealand had sales of $130 million (£73 million), to give a total of $1,143 million (£642 million) for ANZ.

As at 31 February, there were 324 optical and 18 audiology stores in Australia to give mean average annual sales of $2.96 million per store, whereas in New Zealand the average for the 52 stores was $A2.5 million.

In the United Kingdom market, Specsavers had sales of £1,392 million ($2379 million), while in its seven other markets in Europe the company had sales totalling £578 million ($1,029).

Total revenue during 2017-18 for the Specsavers group increased by 7 per cent to £2.61 billion through sales of 20.5 million spectacle frames, 500 million contact lenses and 337,770 hearing aids.

The company has 2,800 joint-venture partners operating 1,978 optical stores and hearing centres. There are 32,500 employees.

Commenting on the 2017-18 year, co-founder Mr Doug Perkins said: “We are in the midst of a decade when eye health is transforming at unprecedented speed. The disruptive changes present an opportunity for us to support ways in which ophthalmologists and optometrists can

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By | June 24th, 2018|Business|