Australia’s Pathology Lab Giant Goes Toe-to-Toe with Private Insurers over Higher fees for Pathology Tests
Sonic Healthcare asks for 30% pathology test fee increase from Bupa and MediBank
In Australia, reduced funding for pathology testing by government health programs is being blamed as one factor contributing to a contract spat between the nation’s largest clinical laboratory and its major private health insurance companies. Pathologists across the globe will recognize several familiar issues, as Australia’s health institutions struggle to cope with increased utilization of pathology testing and higher healthcare costs.
By asking for a price increase of 30% for pathology testing, Sonic Healthcare Ltd (ASX: SHL) has put itself at loggerheads with several of the nation’s largest private health insurance companies. As contracts between Sonic Healthcare and these private insurance companies expire, Sonic then sends bills directly to the patients insured by those health plans for the costs of the pathology testing performed during their stay at private hospitals. The amount of the bill reflects the “gap” fee difference between government reimbursement and the actual charge for laboratory tests.