Higher GP premiums could fund no-fault disability scheme
GPs could face higher indemnity premiums as the result of a Commonwealth no-fault disability scheme now being debated, medical defence organisations have warned.
A Productivity Commission discussion paper released last week has put forward a number of options for such a scheme, along with a series of suggested funding models - one of which would see doctors chip in through higher annual medical indemnity premiums.
The commission has suggested the scheme could be funded by taxpayers, through a redirection of current government subsidies for medical claims, through medical indemnity premiums - or a mix of all three.
MDOs currently compensate patients who can prove the medical practitioner was negligent.
Under the proposed no-fault disability scheme, any patient experiencing a catastrophic medical accident at the hands of a doctor would be compensated, regardless of whether negligence is established or not.
Dr Sara Bird, MDA National medico-legal adviser, said the Government had to take a pragmatic approach to funding any scheme, or risk another indemnity crisis.
"If doctors have to pass premiums onto their patients, we could go back into a cycle where certain services get withdrawn in certain areas of medicine," she said.
In its report Disability Care and Support, the commission estimates a no-fault disability scheme would cost $12 billion a year – an additional $6.3 billion to what is already spent by state and federal governments.
AMA president Dr Andrew Pesce said he supported the introduction of such a scheme, although he hoped situations where doctors were forced to send patients with a disability to an emergency department because there were no other services available, and their families could no longer cope, would be "relegated to the dustbin of history".
But he added: "One of the fundamental premises has to be that it cannot be made to put up premiums for doctors [which could result in] higher costs to their patients."
Tags: , Medico-legal