Two of the most popular healthcare plans in Australia are being forced to stop offering coverage for their second careers after being flagged by the ABC as being inadequate for the conditions they cover.
The ABC’s FourFourtwo program has discovered that the plans are being rolled out at the behest of an industry-funded lobby group that represents employers, who argue the plans could jeopardise their future business plans.
The plans cover some healthcare workers with gastroenteric disease but do not cover people who are terminally ill or with a medical condition that can make their health more difficult.
The plan that was originally introduced in July last year was meant to be a way for people to start their second career in the health sector and to ensure that their healthcare is not disrupted if they become ill.
But the plans have since been scrapped, and replaced with new plans.
“It is very disappointing for our industry that we’re having to take the drastic action we are and roll out a new plan,” said a spokesperson for the Australia-based Association of Medical Specialists (AMS).
“The AMA has advised us that we should reconsider our plan and that we need to look at ways of ensuring that people who need healthcare can access it.”
The AMA said its members had expressed concerns about the plans since they were introduced, but the industry’s chief executive, John Scott, said the plans were “designed to meet the needs of doctors and other healthcare workers”.
“The second career plan is not designed for people who have chronic illness, but for those with a very acute condition,” he said.
“For people who require chronic healthcare, this is not the best solution.”
The Australian Medical Association has also raised concerns about some of the plans.
It said it had raised concerns in May with the Australian Council of Medical Royal Colleges, but was told that “no further action is necessary”.
“We have raised these concerns with the AMA about the care plans and the AMA’s approach to the issue,” AMA chief executive Dr Matthew Hargreaves said in a statement.
“This is a matter for the AMA and we will continue to raise the issue with the government.”
‘Not the best way’ The ABC asked a number of health care experts and industry experts to assess the impact of the roll-out of the new plans, including Dr Richard Koehler, president of the Australian Medical University.
“I think the problem is not necessarily that the plan is bad, but that the company that is sponsoring it has a vested interest in making sure it’s the best possible plan,” Dr Koehl said.
He said the industry would have to ensure it was not forced to sell off its businesses if the plans became available.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a health plan in the world that was not sponsored by the health care industry, whether it’s a medical device company or a drug company,” Dr Hargres said.