Specialist fee transparency site to show data for individual practitioners

A revamped version of the government’s specialist fee transparency site is to go live this year with cost data provided from individual specialists.

The Medical Costs Finder online tool designed to prevent ‘bill shock’ was originally launched in 2019, but few specialists signed up and it proved of limited use to consumers because it only provided aggregated details of service costs by geographic locality.

After an injection of a further $17 million by the Department of Health, the site is now being redesigned to list more specific fee details and gap fee arrangements from individual practitioners covering 1300 services.

After consultation with specialist groups, a private beta site is to start in March 2022 that will be open to only a small selection of participants to test and provide feedback on the tool, with the full site expected to go live in late 2022. Participation is voluntary.

“Over the last 12 months the Department of Health has worked to enhance the website to allow individual medical specialists to publish their practicing locations, estimate fees and private health insurer arrangements for a select number of the specialists’ high-volume services. This information will be accessible by consumers and GPs,” the Consumers Health Association says.

The Department of Health emphasises that the Medical Costs Finder is not a quoting tool, and does not replace informed financial consent.

“The Department acknowledges that for certain treatments it can be difficult to specify costs and the specific treatment is not confirmed prior to specialist and patient meeting. The website will clearly articulate that only indicative fee information is displayed and [for patients] to always speak with your specialist to discuss which treatment is right for you.”

The Department also says the fee data provided will not be checked against claims nor used for compliance purposes, and it assures practitioners that publishing of individual medical specialists’ fees will not be classed as anti-competitive behaviour.

The first speciality areas invited to participate include gastroenterology, general surgery (with a particular focus on breast, abdominal and colorectal surgeries), gynaecology and obstetrics, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and urology.

Additional medical specialist areas and services will be added over time and specialists can register their interest to be notified of when new areas as added.

A demonstration of the website is available here. Information about the tool at a glance is provided in the Medical Specialist FAQ’s.

To participate in private beta, sign-up for the initial launch, or if you would like to know more about the website, please contact [email protected].

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