Many patients are not informed of true cost of procedures

RESEARCHERS are pushing for a new standard that medical professionals would have to follow when disclosing the costs of medical treatment to patients.

Cancer Council Australia's Professor Sanchia Aranda and Cancer Institute NSW's Professor David Currow said out-of-pocket health care expenses were rising well above the consumer price index and influencing patients' decisions about their health.

They said this had the potential to detrimentally affect health outcomes for individuals and Australia as a whole.

In an article published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, the professors said many patients were not informed of the full cost of a procedure and whether there were alternatives that offered similar benefits.

They also said patients were sometimes not informed about comparative waiting times in the public and private systems.

This was important, they said, because public surgery waiting times for cancers were very short.

"A new standard for financial disclosure is required - a standard that moves beyond disclosure of the costs of a single procedure to one that accounts for the costs of a full pathway of treatment and all the alternatives open to the patient," the authors said.