Govt review reveals greater pricing transparency

Home care package providers have significantly improved the accuracy and clarity of their pricing information.

Home care package providers have significantly improved the accuracy and clarity of their pricing information on the My Aged Care website, according to a government review.

The report – published 3 October by the Department of Health and Aged Care – is a follow-up to phase one of the Pricing Transparency on My Aged Care review published last year.

The review’s purpose was to assure providers’ pricing information on My Aged Care was “complete, accurate and current”, and adhering to the Aged Care Act 1997.

Sampling data uploaded by 839 home care providers, phase one of the review discovered a large majority displaying “insufficient pricing transparency”.

Among the problems identified:

  • price lists missing or incomplete
  • inconsistent advertising of prices
  • incorrect subcontracting charges.

“The [August 2022] review report identified assurance of pricing transparency as a priority,” write the authors of the latest report.

Anna Millicer

Home care consultant Anna Millicer told Community Care Review that providers routinely failed to meet government guidelines. “A very large proportion of providers at the start of the review process were not meeting legislative and program requirements. That’s a problem – that’s a big deal.”

Phase two of the review into pricing transparency has found a “significant improvement in the accuracy, currency, clarity and completeness of pricing information on My Aged Care,” write the report’s authors.

However, Ms Millicer – founder of Get Smart Aged Care Consultancy and the Home Care HQ newsletter service – told CCR: “There was – and still is – a lack of understanding of the nuances around [providers’] own pricing.”

The latest report seeks to remedy this by detailing the requirements providers have to meet and outlining the steps they have to take.

“Providers don’t necessarily know where to look to get the right sort of information, and this report hands it to them beautifully,” said Ms Millicer. “This report is very, very instructional. It’s telling them here’s what you need to know and here’s what you need to do to get your house in order. They’re able to use these learnings from the report in a really practical way.”

Unspent funds

The department dropped another report on 3 October revealing the findings of a government review into unspent funds.

“Departmental data shows that as at May 2023 there was around $2.8 billion of HCP unspent funds, with around $700 million held by providers and $2.1 billion held by Services Australia. The majority of the $700 million held by providers is the Commonwealth portion,” reads the report.

“It’s telling us that there are still potentially unmet needs for consumers, because if providers’ unspent funds are going up, then that’s money not being spent on the direct care and service delivery for consumers,” said Ms Millicer. “We know that providers are still taking their package management and care management fees – that’s a given – so why are unspent funds still going up?”

Ms Millicer told CCR that the review’s findings will be seen as a red flag. “The department is concerned that consumers needs are not being adequately identified through the process of assessment and annual review and, consequently, the consumers needs are not being adequately met.”

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Tags: anna millicer, featured, home care, pricing, unspent funds,

1 thought on “Govt review reveals greater pricing transparency

  1. Having worked in the Home Care Package industry as a Case Manager for 6 years I believe I can provide some insight into unspent funds which may be helpful moving forward.
    Firstly, and possibly most importantly, just because a client is assigned a Home Care Package this does not mean they will automatically be able to access the services they require/have been assessed for. In rural and remote areas there is a huge shortage of service providers in the communities where the client lives. This has become even more problematic since COVID.
    For example, a client may have been assessed for a Level 4 HCP and may have agreed to 5 showers/personal care services a week, in consultation with their Case Manager, however service providers are unable to provide staff to provide the service due to staff shortages.
    Secondly, a client may have been assessed for a Level 4 Home Care Package, due to assessed high level of need, but the client declines any services offered. As a result Home Care Package funds build up, very quickly, to an exorbitant amount of unspent funds.
    There has not been an avenue for these clients to transition back to a lower level package until such time as they are willing to accept services for their assessed need.
    If this was possible- transitioning back to a lower level HCP (therefor less funds allocated to them) – then there would be less unspent funds sitting idle, whilst there are thousands of other elderly people in our communities waiting on services to keep them safe in their own homes.

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