State of Private Hospitals sector in Australia

State of Private Hospitals sector in Australia
Michael Roff CEO Australian Private Hospitals Association

The Australian Private Hospitals Association is the leading industry body that represents the majority of private hospitals in Australia. They provide a diverse range of healthcare services, including general medical surgical hospitals, mental health facilities, and hospitals that provide inpatient rehabilitation. Private hospitals play a crucial role in the Australian health system, comprising about 30% of all hospital beds and provide 40% of admissions and 60% of all surgeries.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA), Michael Roff, has served APHA for the past 30 years, first as Public Affairs Manager in 1994 before being appointed CEO in March 2000.

Recently Mr Roff, advised the APHA Board he will be stepping down in July 2024. Australian Health Journal spoke with him to discuss the recent announcement by the Federal Government to retain the General Use Items, an issue APHA has successfully lobbied to retain over the past few years.

Mr Roff also discusses his broader thoughts on the current state of the private hospital sector in Australia and reflecting on the changes over the past 30 years whilst working at APHA and 24 years as the Chief Executive Officer.

Mr Roff talks about the financial challenges due to long-term underfunding, which has led to many hospitals struggling to meet their usual capital expenditure. This issue has caused some private hospitals to close, which reduces the healthcare options available to Australians. According to Mr Roff, it is essential to address this issue to ensure that Australians continue to have access to high-quality, private healthcare services.

The growth in exclusionary health insurance products is also a problem that needs attention, says Mr Roff. Many Australians cannot adequately self-assess their own risk of needing a particular hospital service, which makes it difficult for them to choose the right health insurance policy. Additionally, health insurance intermediaries, which compare health insurance products and provide recommendations, often work on a commission basis, which may not necessarily provide consumers with the best options available.

“To address these issues, it is necessary to create a balanced system that benefits both private hospitals and private health insurance companies. Private hospitals need to receive adequate funding to continue to provide high-quality healthcare services, and private health insurance companies should provide fair payments to private hospitals for their services.”, says Mr Roff.

During Mr Roff’s working career at APHA he has represented the private hospitals sector to nine different Federal Health Ministers and eight Prime Ministers. He believes the government should take steps to regulate the health insurance industry to protect consumers and ensure that Australians have access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare services.

“I have spent half my life and the majority of my professional life with APHA and it has been an honour to represent a sector committed to providing the highest quality health services to millions of Australians each year”, Mr Roff said. 

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