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Aust Health Rev. 2011 May;35(2):204-10. doi: 10.1071/AH10894.

A survey of reimbursement practices of private health insurance companies for pharmaceuticals not covered under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme 2008.

Author information

  • 1Pharmacy Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St Andrew's Place, Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia. senthil.lingaratnam@petermac.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the current practices and policy of Australian private health insurance (PHI) companies with respect to cover for pharmaceuticals not subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS:

A 2008 review of web-published policy statements for top-level hospital and comprehensive general treatment insurance, and survey of reimbursement practices by way of questionnaire, of 31 Australian-registered, open-membership PHI companies.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES(S):

Description of the level of pharmaceutical cover and important considerations identified by PHI companies for funding non-PBS pharmaceuticals through benefit entitlements or ex-gratia payments.

RESULTS:

Nine of thirty-one PHI companies (29%) provided responses accounting for ~60% market share of PHI. The majority of smaller PHI firms either declined participation or did not respond. The maximum limits offered for non-PBS pharmaceuticals, under comprehensive general treatment insurance, varied significantly and typically did not adequately cover high-cost pharmaceuticals. Some companies occasionally offered ex-gratia payments (or discretionary payments in excess of the policyholder's entitlement benefits) for high cost-pharmaceuticals. Factors considered important in their decision to approve or reject ex-gratia requests were provided. All results were de-identified.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is little consistency across PHI companies in the manner in which they handle requests for high-cost pharmaceuticals in excess of the defined benefit limits. Such information and processes are not transparent to consumers.

PMID:
21612735
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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