A new report released by Bupa shows health insurance claims for knee and hip replacement surgeries were the most expensive items it paid out for in 2018, totalling more than $420 million. The report says much of this is attributable to an ageing and increasingly overweight population.

This is particularly alarming given that research shows that a physiotherapy prescribed exercise and education program, in conjunction with weight management support, could avert more than 70 per cent of knee replacement surgeries alone in Australia each year, saving up to $300 million.

“Physio research has highlighted the enormous costs of knee and hip replacement surgeries and the subsequent cost saving that could be made by having consumers see a physiotherapist for review before surgery is scheduled. It is international best practice for all patients to be referred to physiotherapy as a first line of care whether they are suffering from mild or severe osteoarthritis, which is the biggest cause of knee and hip replacement surgeries in Australia” APA National President Phil Calvert said.

Mr Calvert says the cost burden on consumers who choose the non-surgical approach must be lessened however, with Medicare subsidies needed to encourage a physio-first approach. “Currently, consumers have to pay more out of their own pockets when they take up an early intervention management program for their arthritis by pro-actively seeking appropriate physio care. Yet if they choose surgery as a first option – which we are clearly seeing all too often judging by these Bupa payout figures – their knee or hip replacement surgery is fully funded via their hospital cover. This just does not make sense.”

For a pro-active approach to arthritis management, to avoid surgery or improve your outcomes following surgery, please contact us for an appointment.