Knee and hip replacements have topped the list of Bupa Australia’s top 10 procedures for 2018.
The health insurer paid out more than $2.2bn for knee replacements and nearly $2bn for hip replacements last year.
Eye, back and cardiac procedures were also prominent in the list, with Bupa paying out more than $1.1bn.
Although many items were directly related to the ageing population, caesarean births slotted in at number four with a claim cost of almost $126m.
Dr Dwayne Crombie, managing director of Bupa Health Insurance, said the procedures are helping people live longer lives and have a better quality of life.
However, he said many of the operations are symptomatic of people getting older and more of the population being overweight or obese.
“Greater access to more sophisticated technology to improve health outcomes should be celebrated, but we need to understand that these advances come with increased costs,” he added. “It also tells us that if we want to be able to put downward pressure on health insurance premiums, we need to be able to trial different ways of delivering healthcare which don’t affect quality of care but may reduce cost or give patients more choice.”
He said surgery for many conditions could be avoided if appropriate preventative health measures, including weight management, are appropriately promoted and funded.