Patients and the medical device sector have welcomed the federal government's decision to add cardiac ablation catheters to the Prostheses List.
The listing means private health insurers will be required to provide cover for the procedure for Australians with private health insurance.
Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that involves placing a catheter into a vein in the leg and pushing it up to the heart.
It is used for the treatment of Atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat with symptoms ranging from palpitations, chest discomfort, dizziness and breathlessness that can lead over time to heart failure, stroke and other heart-related complications.
Patient representative group hearts4heart said the decision closes a "loophole" and could expedite the treatment of up to 18,500 patients each year.
“Minister Hunt has delivered on his promise to resolve this long-standing impasse in the interest of Australians with atrial fibrillation,” said hearts4heart CEO Tanya Hall.
“We applaud the Health Minister for closing the funding loophole and ensuring privately insured Australians receive access to this important procedure when and where they need it.”
Ian Burgess, CEO of the Medical Technology Association of Australia, said,“MTAA’s agreement with the Government to allow non-implantables to be made available to privately insured patients will give thousands of Australians immediate access to life-saving medical technology.
“In addition to delivering $1.1 billion in savings to private health insurers, the Agreement has paved the way for more innovative and clinically-effective medical technology to be made more readily available to more people.
“We believe access to a full range of medical technology is the most valuable component of a Private Health Insurance policy and we welcome the Government’s continued commitment to the Agreement to allow the industry to do what it does best – assist patients lead healthier and more productive lives."
“Catheter ablation is the best treatment for a large number of atrial fibrillation patients who would otherwise suffer debilitating chest pounding, struggle to perform day-to-day activities, and face heightened risk of stroke, heart failure, and death,” said Associate Professor Saurabh Kumar, Chair of the Electrophysiology and Pacing Council of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.
“There is a window of opportunity after symptoms begin in which ablation is most successful. Today’s announcement will allow eligible patients to receive treatment at the earliest opportunity. This is a great result for many Australians and their doctors.”