Thousands of Australians who rely on pacemakers and implanted defibrillators are being denied access to remote heart monitoring that identifies problems before they escalate and reduces the need for in-person doctor visits.
This is the claim being made by Australian heart disease education, support and advocacy group, Hearts4heart. It says patients are being “blocked by heartless private health insurers”.
Hearts4heart CEO, Tanya Hall, said in a statement her group has been inundated with appeals from doctors and distressed patients who have received rejections from health insurers.
‘More focused on bottom line’
“For months we have been in talks the Department of Health and Private Healthcare Australia – and some funds such as HBF, Australian Unity, GHMBA, DVA, Teachers Health and WestFund are issuing approvals.
“However, several large providers such as NIB, Medibank and AHM are rejecting applications for remote heart monitoring and seem more focused on their bottom line than the heath of their members,” she stated.
Hall said access to heart health technology should not be granted or rejected at the whim of a private health insurer.
Group calls for legislative changes
“We are calling on the Federal Government to make legislative change so that no matter when or where a pacemaker or defibrillator is inserted, no matter which health fund you are with, there is uniform access.”
“At a minimum, cardiac patients deserve that certainty.”
Hearts4heart claims heart experts and advocates are alarmed that some of Australia’s largest health funds have turned their backs on patients who require remote cardiac monitoring to not only manage heart irregularities but adhere to COVID-19 related advice to limit hospital visits.
Thousand in ‘high clinical need’
The group says here are approximately 20,000 Australians living with defibrillator or pacemaker devices that, while compatible, are not connected to remote monitoring technology.
The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand believes up to 2,000 of these patients have ‘high clinical need’.
Remote monitoring devices wirelessly share health data and critical alerts from the implant to a treating doctor, so they can keep tabs on a patient’s symptoms and the performance of their cardiac implant.