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NSANZ asks Government to clear up PHI concerns over pain management

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Neuromodulation Society of Australia and New Zealand (NSANZ) has expressed its concern to the Federal Government that changes to private health insurance could deny access to life-changing pain management for many Australians.

About one-in-three patients prescribed strong opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and up to 12 per cent of these patients develop a strong opioid use disorder.

NSANZ said these numbers could skyrocket if Australian patients are forced to upgrade their insurance policies, or miss-out on pain management treatments with devices.

The organisation pointed to Health Minister Greg Hunt’s promise in July that: “We take the existing policies, no change in price, no change in coverage, but we make it simpler so as everybody can see in one page exactly what is in place.”

Dr Richard Sullivan, pain medicine specialist physician and NSANZ President, Melbourne, called on the Government to make good on that promise.

He said all existing procedures for pain management, including devices, should be made available in Bronze, Silver and Gold policies – not just in the top-tier Gold policies.

“Australian strong opioid-related deaths now exceed heroin deaths by two-and-a-half-times, and estimates suggest more than a quarter of chronic pain patients are misusing prescription strong opioids,” Dr Sullivan said

“These numbers will increase should patients be denied access to chronic pain procedures they currently have under their existing policies.”