AMA: Insurance industry is undermining doctors' professions

DOCTORS are afraid the private health insurance industry is undermining their profession and invading the primary care market covered by Medicare.

The head of the Australian Medical Association made the astounding claim today during a speech in Canberra.

AMA president Dr Brian Owler said the insurance industry had already "successfully lobbied" the Abbott Government to increase their premiums by 6%, while still claiming costs were too high.

"Despite the protests of innocence, I fear a concerted effort on behalf of private health insurers to undermine and control the medical profession," he said.

"The stage is being set for a United States-style manager care system in both the primary care and hospital settings.

"I am concerned that the government is also looking towards such a system."

Dr Owler's concerns come after a Medibank Private trial in Queensland in recent months that doctors have claimed insurance members were given priority over other patients.

He also hit out at the Abbott Government's planned $7 GP co-payment, labelling it a policy that "threatens the very foundations of the health system".

In the wide-ranging speech, Dr Owler also acknowledged the extra 300 first year doctor training places in the government's first budget.

But he said such measures were being undermined by the rest of the budget, including the removal of a key GP placements program.

Dr Owler said the program not only gave young doctors important exposure to different working environments, but was essential for providing workforce "particularly in regional areas".