17th May 2018

Big jump in numbers quitting private health cover: survey

FONT SIZE: A+ A-
Rush to quit private health cover
Janelle Ward

More than a quarter of a million Australians abandoned their private health insurance in the year to March 2018, according to new research from Roy Morgan.

This has jumped from 182,000 in the same period in 2017 to 256,000 and is the highest number in the past five years.

The Roy Morgan Single Source survey of more than 50,000 consumers found that cost was the main reason for members dropping out. This has risen to 53.3 per cent, up from 47.1 per cent in the previous year.

The gap in out-of-pocket expenses was the second biggest factor. This leapt from 12.8 per cent last year to 19.1 per cent.

Nearly one in six (15.5 per cent) members who didn’t renew said that “Medicare suits my needs”, up from only 5.3 per cent last year, indicating that an increasing number of people see no real value in having private health insurance.

Over the year, there was also an increase in concerns regarding service, with 11.6 per cent saying they didn’t renew because of “poor service”, up from 2.3 per cent the previous year.

Roy Morgan Industry Communications Director Norman Morris says: “With a great deal of negative publicity being given to the rapidly rising cost of private health insurance, it is not surprising that the major reason given for not renewing is to do with the increasing expense for many households.

 


“This research has shown that apart from the cost of health insurance being a major problem for customer retention, it should be related to the perceived benefits or value of paying increasingly high premiums.

“With a large proportion of individuals who leave saying that there remains a major gap for them to pay (i.e. “too much out-of-pocket expense”) and “Medicare suits my needs”, there is major doubt among many members regarding the current value to them of retaining their private health insurance.

“It is up to the health funds to communicate the value of having private health insurance over just relying on Medicare.

“Our research on member satisfaction with private health funds has shown major differences in satisfaction across funds and as a result the poorer performers could learn from the top ones and so improve their chances of member retention.”

In YourLifeChoices latest Retirement Income and Financial Literacy 2018 survey, half our members told us that health insurance policies were too complex for them to understand. Of all provider plans, including phone and energy offerings, health insurance was seen as the most difficult to navigate.

Just 27.5 per cent of respondents felt comfortable with their level of understanding of their health insurer’s policy.

Given that 72 per cent of our members say they have private health insurance, the number who consider their policies unnecessarily complicated is significant.

While some policyholders resign themselves to ‘trusting’ their insurance companies – in part because of the challenges of shopping around for a better deal – the fact remains that many are very unsure if the product they have purchased is fit for their purpose.

Have you abandoned your private health cover? Are you concerned about out-of-pocket expenses?

Related articles:
Private health system blasted
Overhaul snubs seniors
Key Budget issues for retirees





COMMENTS

To make a comment, please register or login
MICK
17th May 2018
9:32am
This is not unexpected news. The healthcare industry has been increasing charges by 5%+ every year for at least a decade. Governments have stood by and done nothing, other than try and force people into these highly overpriced wealth vacuum businesses.
Those bailing out at an unprecedented rate have now woken up and are making a decision but have thrown away a large sum of money on past contributions.
The argument will be about private doctors and hospitals but you'll never hear about those on top cover having to foot large bills despite being on very expensive top cover. The industry tries to keep that one hush hush.
We all understand the shortcomings of the public system and all I can suggest to those who get caught in this web is to doctor/surgeon surf until they find a medico who is a businessman second and a human being first. Urgent cases are urgent cases but don't expect many doctors to care. That is the reason why they changed the entry into medical degrees years ago, to fix the very bright getting into medicine for business rather than because of the calling.
Good luck to those who have abandoned private insurance. We have never been in but then we have so far been pretty healthy.
Old Geezer
17th May 2018
11:38am
Mick I spent a week in a public hospital recently as a private patient and I had a team of doctors looking after me whereas those public patients just got whatever doctor was available. They were waiting days for surgery whereas I didn't have to wait long at all.
MICK
17th May 2018
1:12pm
My understanding is that doctors in the public system are not all that bad. Often you actually get the specialist you saw before you went into hospital 'guiding' the registrar...the doctor on P Plates. I think you would be pretty safe as not as though this is not a controlled environment. Of course if you have an insignificant issue may otherwise.
By all means pay hand over fist for something you do not need to pay for. You are well heeled and can afford it. Nearly all other posters on this website cannot.
Eddy
17th May 2018
1:14pm
I also dropped my PHI but only because I was granted a DVA Gold Card. My wife retains PHI as a single person. Considering that
many Vietnam vets, particularly the nashos, would be approaching their 70th birthday, how many dropped PHI as they were offered a DVA card?
Pre-gold card my experience as a private patient in a public hospital was different to OG. While the care was first rate, it was strongly stressed to me when I was requested to sign up as a private patient rather than a public one, that any of my treatment would be based on clinical need on my status as a private patient. The same doctors who saw me were the same doctors who saw other patients in my shared ward. Best of all I had no out-of-pocket expenses, including pharmacy, for my six weeks hospitalisation.
Later I went onto a private hospital under DVA arrangements. I can truly say that the care I received in both public and private hospitals was first rate. No complaints whatsoever.
Old Man
17th May 2018
2:06pm
I don't know where OG got sick (funny that whatever the topic, OG always has something that just happened to him) but where we live, the only difference between private and public in the public hospital system is that private patients can get a single room if one is available. All other aspects of care are exactly the same. Our son's best mate is a sister (or male equivalent) in our public hospital and he says that there is no indication on the charts, bedside notice or ward that can show whether a patient is public or private. All patients get the same treatment.
Old Man
17th May 2018
2:12pm
I agree MICK that governments have done nothing and I am on record in here moaning about just that. Worse, governments, regardless of colour, have allowed the health insurance industry to lie to both government and members by quoting a mythical "average" which has no relationship to the percentage increase that members are asked to pay. You are wrong with your percentage increase MICK as it's nowhere near the figures quoted by insurers or health ministers.
OnlyGenuineRainey
17th May 2018
7:36pm
I recall OG saying he only bathed once a week - or less - as washing often is bad for the skin. No doubt he had a team of doctors arguing over which would tolerate the stink, and he - with his hugely inflated ego - THOUGHT they were all looking after him!
Old Geezer
17th May 2018
10:13pm
Yes OGR you are right they were arguing about me as I told them what was wrong and they didn't believe me. After their treatment failed to make any difference they decide I was right and gave me the correct treatment. I had also asked for another doctor I know to be consulted as well.

Nothing wrong with having a bath only when one needs one.
OnlyGenuineRainey
20th May 2018
11:31am
Ah... there's that egomaniacal OG again. True to form. Now he knows more than the doctors. Of course he knows an expert to call whenever one is needed. And everything in his world is perfect. Love to know what planet he lives on, but it certainly isn't EARTH.
jaycee1
20th May 2018
3:52pm
Old Man,
I worked in a Public hospital for many years and if you look on the labels and know what to look for you can tell the difference between public and private patients.
But, as stated, the care given to both public and private patients are identical. Although private patients do get vouchers each day which entitles them to a free paper + a free cup of coffee from the kiosk.
It is only in regards to surgery that any difference raises it's head and that is usually only in regards to the surgeon doing the surgery. Depending on what needs done 95% of the time a public patient will be operated on by the register, under the consultants supervision, [ how else are they to learn their trade] Usually the patient is aware this will happen.
Private patients 99% of the time will be operated on by the specialist. Although this is not always the case as it can happen, due to circumstances the specialist can't get to the hospital [emergency case elsewhere] and the register will do the operation. Again, after discussion with the patient - it is either that or the operation is cancelled.
In all my years in the public system when a patient came in as a private patient the excess was waived and they ended up with no gap payments. [ask about it on first arriving as some hospitals can be different]
This is because the hospital actually makes money rather than having to cover all costs themselves.
I would urge anyone, entering a public hospital, who has private coverage to use it and ask about waiving the gap pay. If told no then just go back to being a public - but be aware that you're surgery maybe delayed or cancelled depending on your specialist.
OnlyGenuineRainey
17th May 2018
10:10am
Quit over a decade ago after massive gap fees for two surgeries in private hospitals where the care was nothing short of appalling. Add to that a $1000 cost for a short visit to emergency and one X-ray yielded a $120 refund. One of the ops was botched completely and when it was redone in a public hospital - free - the care was first class. Since then have had two episodes of illness that resulted in hospitalization after visits to country hospital emergency rooms and on both occasions the care has been superb, at no costs. Partner also had a stay in hospital - in a major city - and the FREE care was superb. Would have paid over a thousand out of pocket if privately insured.
Recent treatment cost us $7000 as we chose to go private, but rebate would have only been about $2200 anyway, and we've saved ten times that amount.
We don't know what the future holds, and it may well be that we'll regret our decision down the track, but at this stage we are so many thousands in front that it will take some major bills for us to decide we erred in our choice.
MICK
17th May 2018
10:37am
I had a work colleague who was on the top cover and had the same problem. It did not make sense that even 30 years ago that somebody on top cover could be slugged with thousands of dollars of bills when they had been paying high premiums for years.
Private healthcare is a business con and people are slowly waking up to this. My wife and I have put the money saved from this industry into saving for the future but we have been blessed to so far have good health apart from one hiccup for my wife which we were fortunate enough to avoid the system with.
Old Geezer
17th May 2018
11:41am
I only had one bad experience as it was a public patient in a public hospital. Never again do I want some doctor who clearly has no idea looking after me. Lucky for me a friend of mine was in charge of the hospital at the time and I was able to contact them and have it sorted.

It cost us more for dental check ups each year than what we pay in premiums. So we get private hospital benefits for virtually nothing.
MICK
17th May 2018
12:24pm
Your normal right wing post OG. You know full well how the private health system works and how much users are slugged when they have a real issue. Read other posts rather than con readers.

How clear is that you are one of the voices of this bad bad government on this website. Sad when you sell your soul mate.
Kathleen
17th May 2018
12:30pm
Emergency is free unless you are asked to swipe your private health card to give the hospital a contribution which I did when I spent a day in a local public hospital.
$7000 would cover just about nothing if you had to pay. A knee replacement is $25000 e.g.
You may have thousands to spare but most people don’t have a spare $7000 lying around hence the weekly payments.
A private colonoscopy would cost $7000 with a specialist and an anaesthetist. I got that free with my private health cover. There are a lot of people to pay for even day care or surgery.
The waiting lists in some areas would see people waiting for years for hip or knee surgery.
A young guy just out of his teens was sent home with his upper and lower leg not connected and told it was elective surgery.
We like the peace of mind our private cover gives us and I do my research re charges beforehand.
Rosret
17th May 2018
12:51pm
OG is quite right. people stay in Private care - just in case. You get a nice hospital, preferential service and reduced waiting times but you pay and then pay again.

Its a bit like first class travel as opposed to economy. You will get to the same destination its just it may not be as pleasant.

The trouble is that after paying into the fund for decades and not needing it when you do need it the gap has become a prohibitive cost. This is exactly what the private funds want - for the older generation to drop out of private cover and let the government pick up the bill.

Its the same with life insurance - the older you get and close to end of life the more it costs until you pull out because it is too expensive.

Its not political MICK its insurance companies.
I wish they hadn't sold off Medibank Private - now that was political.

If you want to score Labor points then look at the man who signed away Medibank Private for 5.7 Billion and note that he was also chair on the Fuel and Energy Select Committee (2008–2010).
Mr. Mathias Cormann might be good at topping up the government coffers - but at what cost to the Australian people.
MICK
17th May 2018
1:15pm
Rosret - you would be aware of many posts discussing the fact that private care means you are not 100% covered and can be thousands of dollars out of pocket. That as well as not claiming for decades are the issues.
OnlyGenuineRainey
17th May 2018
1:29pm
Nurses are leaving the private hospitals to work in public because the private hospitals are all about PROFIT, not patient care. That says it all for me! I don't believe a word OG says. He's full of it. And his crap about dental checkups proves it. Cost more than a year's fund premium? What a MASSIVE LIE. Where in the world does a simple annual dental checkup cost thousands? OG, you are just showing yourself to be a liar and a fool.

BTW. Last stay in a public hospital, I had four EXCELLENT doctors attending to me and a team of superb nurses. Last stay in a private hospital I had one inept greedy mongrel doctor who refused to even do a final follow-up consultation. Partner just had two ops by a private specialist and he was very good, but hospitalization was in a public ward and you couldn't find better anywhere. And that was in a big city hospital. $312 for overnight stay each time, and if we'd had private cover we'd have gotten it free, after paying over $2500 a year in premiums.
Rosret
17th May 2018
1:46pm
MICK I sure am. Its like any insurance - you hope you are covered and you'll only really find out when you need it.
George
17th May 2018
2:26pm
It's NOT like any other insurance - with large gaps and caps! It's a con industry!
Old Geezer
17th May 2018
10:05pm
It doesn't cost me anything extra in a public or private hospital. My health fund pays all the bills. The best part is that any medication is also paid for whereas if I had to get a script filled it would cost over $100. I haven't had to pay any gaps at all.
maxchugg
18th May 2018
10:07am
I was fully insured and had major surgery in a private hospital. After I arrived home, for the following weeks the postman began to deliver a seemingly endless succession of bills for gap payments from a legion of people whom I had never met, seen or even known about. The total cost was astronomical.
The anaesthetist deserves special mention. His bill was about 10 times the scheduled fee, but he was prepared to offer a 50% discount if I paid within 7 days, but, even with this discount, he charged more than the surgeon.
Later I became involved with an organization where I was in frequent contact with people who had had identical surgery to mine, and paid not one cent.
On the other hand, I had developing glaucoma and a hint of cataracts forming, and it was recommended that I have eye surgery which was all done on both eyes well within three months. A pensioner friend who had maintained health insurance all of his working life had serious problems with cataracts so severe he could no longer drive. He waited three years for one eye, then two years for the other.
OnlyGenuineRainey
20th May 2018
12:04pm
Best experience I ever had was during a doctor's strike. I had private insurance but the only available treatment was in public hospitals and only for emergency cases - which mine was. I was diagnosed by a junior trainee who found a problem nine specialists had missed over a period of 6 years of tests and investigations. Public surgeon operated. I spent 14 days in a very over-crowded hospital as all the regional hospitals were closed due to the strike and patients were all moved to the district public hospital. First class care all the way, despite huge staff shortages and no private doctors available. Very long time ago and in a country region, so maybe things would be very different now, but I should have quit my private cover then! The expensive private doctors had proved totally inept.
jaycee1
20th May 2018
4:05pm
We used to get patients coming in for surgery that had been to private hospitals and said 'never again'.
They said the only good thing about them was the choice of meals, but even that wasn't ask good as it had been years ago.
Everything these days are all about money.
One woman stated that the private hospital she had been in was filthy because they had only one cleaner to do 3 flours.
OnlyGenuineRainey
17th May 2018
10:20am
The problem for the government and the funds is that even if it can find ways to address the fallout that is clearly going to put a huge strain on Medicare, the people who dropped out can't rejoin because of the massive penalty costs for having withdrawn. As well as finding ways to work with the funds to improve the perceived value, the government might have to review it's policies or declare and amnesty to let people back in to the funds. My fear is that they will simply adopt the strategy that is becoming the standard for the LNP - reduce funding for public care, abolish bulk billing and introduce a large co-payment, and let the poor suffer.
MICK
17th May 2018
12:29pm
You would reign in costs OVERNIGHT is you ended the relentless round of 'tests' when there was no clear evidence of whether or not they were necessary. Even doctors complain about this. Sadly this is how doctors make the big bucks....'go get a test Freddy and come back to see me next week. If all clear I'll send you for more tests and you can come back and see me again'.

Also, many of us run to the doctor for the most basic issues which clear up in a couple of days. Our usage is at most, touch wood, once a year and often not even that. If you want to discuss taking pressure off the public system we might need to discuss WHAT the healthcare system is for...and using it as a free 'dummy' has never been its purpose.
Kathleen
17th May 2018
12:52pm
Mick, annual checks may be okay for people without conditions but most elderly people need to go about four times a year for doctors to keep an eye on health issues that are serious.
Scripts last six months so two visits are at least needed.
I have noticed doctors are now reluctant to do the testing except for the blood tests. People are being charged a lot for scans and X-rays etc so people are holding back as well. I have been present when people are quoting prices over the phone to patients who then do not make an appointment because they cannot afford it. This present government has ripped funding for so much that people are unaware of until they have a need. Some of my meds have been removed from the free list as well. My GP acknowledged only yesterday that this is the work or lack of care from our lovely LNP government. Doctors know who is to blame.
MICK
17th May 2018
1:20pm
The number of people using/abusing the healthcare system indicates over servicing. You cannot have so many people who have to run to the doctor every other week.
I have no issues with people who are known to be chronically ill. I do have issues with the rest who want to feel good by having (unnecessary) check-ups and who want to run from specialist to specialist to feel good about the aches and pains which come with age and/or be fixed up for a lifetime of bad living....which no amount of medicine can reverse anyway.
Sorry to not be sympathetic. The cost to us ALL is huge but like so many other things in our culture people have been raised on rights rather than common sense and social responsibility.
Just imagine what our health system COULD be if we halved the cost by not playing the mideco game and puffing up our egos unnecessarily.
Onemore
17th May 2018
10:34am
Would I be correct in saying, that with increase in immigration the governments both State and Federal did not factor in to the equation the strain on the infrastructures that were probably already strained? Hospitals, transport and housing will get worse before they get any better.
HS
17th May 2018
12:06pm
That's one of the prime factors. It's a huge problem, because many were given Medicare cover without any past contributions to the levy and many, today, still don't and haven't contributed a cent because they and their families thrive on social welfare.
Linda
17th May 2018
1:10pm
They do lock out immigration for family members, due to the concern of medical expenses in old age. I figure the decisions made by political people, with no thought at all for the impact on human beings, just the budget item and how many folks will notice, re their profile and spin at voting time. Too right that only those who need something find out about the changes. I could happily do without the fresh flowers at reception, the marble topped reception area, the decorated treatment room, the massive consulting room, with high priced furniture. I am happy for good care, in a clean environment by capable medicos who are up to date and can see and treat me in a timely manner. Seems like a fairy tale compared to what we have. Our health system is generally under a lot of pressure. There must be many contributing factors.
Kathleen
17th May 2018
11:39am
Well people are being stirred up to quit instead of shopping around and demanding a better deal. We are not going anywhere. We don’t dine out or drink or smoke or have coffee out so we will keep affording our private health cover. We look for savings so we can keep affording $20 or $30 a week for our private cover which luckily includes free day surgery and many things are day surgery. We also pay smile.com.au to make de gal work even cheaper so all good!
People make choices and we choose to have private health cover so we can choose our doctors and hospital etc. Choose doctors who bulk bill and check costs ahead of hospitalisation to make sure there are no nasty surprises.
Kathleen
17th May 2018
11:40am
Dental work not de gal work lol!
Raphael
17th May 2018
12:22pm
Yep - and we have folks always whining that the pension is not generous enough
It’s all about managing your budget and cutting out wasteful expenditure
Kathleen
17th May 2018
12:37pm
I also believe there should be means testing on public hospitals which my day in emergency showed. I swiped my card to help the hospital so maybe people who do not belong to a private fund and are wealthy should pay something as well. The hospital only took $400 from my fund and I was happy to do this as I like to pay my way where possible. A day in emergency would cost thousands I imagine!
Rosret
17th May 2018
1:07pm
I doubt that pensioners could afford private insurance.
Kathleen if public hospitals were means tested people would die.
Just because their income maybe average or higher does not necessarily indicate there net worth.
Divorced couples for example where one parent may be paying maintenance may also be living in poverty just to find room and board.
I remember sitting in a waiting room listening to a couple of old ladies cheerfully listing off all the tests and procedures they were getting for their respective illnesses at no cost to them.
They were going to get their visit paid courtesy of a health card then they were going to the pharmacist and getting cheap prescriptions.
I, on the other hand, had to take a days leave, pay $70 for the visit and another $50 for the prescription. At that time I was wondering if I had $6000 in the bank to pay the gap for the upcoming operation coupled with the 3 months leave I would need to recuperate. So no, a means test would just be another burden at a really tough time.
KB
17th May 2018
1:10pm
Kathleen Like you I always check the costs before surgery and saving for the next hip operation for out of pocket costs Under health insurance day surgery is not free. My sister recently had her knee seem to and they had to pay a contribution for hospital and the man who puts you to sleep. I choose to have medical insurance due to health issues therefore prefer to see the same specialists.It is only just affordable. Thankfully Medicare and my health care card pays for other medical expenses such as x-rays and blood tests,
Kathleen
17th May 2018
5:08pm
I have free day surgery with my insurer, the only one who does it actually, to my knowledge. There are no extra costs. I have an excess for overnight but none for day surgery which is great.
We are pensioners with no other income or big bank balance but I am careful with specialists and surgeons, etc. checking beforehand. When I had shoulder surgery the costs were all detailed beforehand so I am at a loss to understand why people are surprised. To my knowledge that is all ironed out beforehand. My regular specialist always bulk bills and he makes a point of saying you will have no out of pocket with me.
jaycee1
20th May 2018
4:23pm
Kathleen,
I agree. Everyone going in for day surgery should be required to put a deposit down before hand.
It is amazing the number of people who do not show up and when contacted have the stupidest reasons for not doing so.
Sometimes their operation involved hiring specialist equipment that cost thousands to hire - money the hospital has to fork out even if you don't show up. It all goes on the hospital budget which is not bottomless.
Another area that I think should be policed is the use of Interpreters. For the first 5 years after a person arrives in Australia, yes we pay for it but if you don't speak/read/write English after this time then you should pay for an Interpreter yourself. We had a person come in for surgery who had been in the country 45 years and said he couldn't speak English.
One woman was born here and claimed not to be able to speak it. The thing is, if the patient asks for an interpreter, hospital policy states, one has to be supplied.
It costs a fortune every year and is taken from a hospitals budget - this is money that could and should be used to cut the waiting lists.
MD
17th May 2018
12:27pm
Dropped (top) cover over two decades ago at the time of having tooth root canal/crown reconstruction.
Bupa, (then MBF) had given the green light to $5.5k worth of work, I paid the dentist direct, fronted MBF to claim only to be referred to the manager, who - in the privacy of her office - pointed out that my membership had 'lapsed' in payment for two weeks almost a year ago which left me short by ten days of requalification period. "You may have phoned for approval prior to proceeding but as we don't have a record as such then the rules stand". I'd been with them for the prior two decades.
A strongly worded letter was sent to their CEO who in turn responded "The Fund Policy stands".

Of course I had myself to blame but realized then that loyalty was a thing of the past. I cancelled membership immediately but it didn't stop them from plaguing me for some two years post fact.
Regardless of whether I die from toothache, dud doctor, waywood tree or OD is of little consequence, the thieving bastards got their pound of flesh outa me. The buck stops here.
MICK
17th May 2018
12:31pm
You were to blame MD....but if you enquired above being covered or not you should have been advised of your status prior to the work being done. If you had this is writing you would have had a leg to stand on.
Kathleen
17th May 2018
12:43pm
MD, that is hard to believe actually. You had a verbal contract and agreement about cost and cover.
Two weeks is also odd because it is now like two months between changing funds that you can be still deemed to be covered.
At the very least, laws have improved.
OnlyGenuineRainey
17th May 2018
1:38pm
Kathleen, years ago I had a WRITTEN contract that a major op for my child would be covered in full, along with the follow-up care, as I had been paying top cover for 12 years to ensure it would be covered. (It was a massive cost - like three years' wages for me at that time!). The fund did not pay. Three months before the op they wrote me telling me they had changed the classification of that surgery to ''optional cosmetic'' (it wasn't!) and therefore it was not covered. Their terms stated they were permitted to change a classification for a particular service provided they gave 90 days' notice. And no, NOTHING has changed legally. They can still do that.

Fortunately, a wonderful charity covered the cost, otherwise despite paying top cover for 12 years, my child would have lived with a significant deformity. Tell me again how wonderful that private cover is! It's all a matter of individual experiences, but it can be quite offensive to be hammered constantly with claims that ''it should be this way'' or ''you should have done that'' by people who have no knowledge of individual circumstances.

As for means testing - how many times do you want people who worked and saved responsibly and paid hefty taxes punished and deprived? No pension. No franking credits. No Medicare. Why not just steal the whole bloody lot of their savings and be honest about it? I've had a gutful of this ''I have superior entitlement because I'm poorer'' crap. Most people I know who are ''poor pensioners'' gambled and partied all their lives. Now, that might not apply to you, but any means test is going to benefit them and screw hard working people like me who NEVER GOT A BLOODY BREAK ANYWHERE, but saved nonetheless. Stick it, Kathleen. I'm heartily sick of the takers. It's time to give the responsible workers and savers a break for a change.
MICK
17th May 2018
2:42pm
Estate duties are coming OGR. When the money stops coming in to government coffers they will pounce. Of course the wealthy will have set up structures which allow them to avoid estate taxes just like they are now piling into offshore tax shelters so that they do not have to pay tax in Australia.
I can see at some time down the track ordinary citizens will rebel violently at the tightening noose which robs them of the fair go they deserve. Your list is but the start.
jaycee1
20th May 2018
4:35pm
Kathleen,
I can see were MD is coming form. I quit HCF about 4 years ago after almost 30 years with them.
Bought new glasses - cost almost $1000 as they are multi-focal lens. Went in to HCF office to make a claim and was told that they could refund me only for my lens as the frames themselves were not covered. Reason being:- they were almost frame-less and the fund did not consider them frames in regards to holding my lens in place.
Excuse me!!!!!!.
Apparently they expected me to walk around holding my glasses lens up to my face so that I could see.
Even the woman serving me couldn't understand it and had to speak to her manager.
Needless to say I cancelled my coverage on the spot. [after a lot of argument from them trying to talk me out of it]
jaycee1
20th May 2018
4:54pm
OnlyGenuineRainey
I am one of those 'poorer' pensioners.
I have NEVER partied or gambled excessively during ANY of my working live - which started when I was 13. (I buy Lotto when it is a big prize]
Except for maternity leave when having my kids I have been the soul breadwinner in my family. Due to circumstances my husband did not work, then about 12 years ago he had a massive stroke - he was only given a couple of years but actually lived 10 altogether.
At no time was I given a carers allowance and worked full time plus looked after him.
I am NOT looking for pity or a handout, such is life and you deal with the hands dealt you as best you can.
My point being, at no time have I been able to save extra towards my retirement so am very grateful for the pension and superannuation that I do get, it is possible for people who have worked hard but NOT played hard to be 'poor'.
During my working life we did not get any handouts except for a partial Disability pension my husband received as I was deemed to be earning too much. [even though it was less than the average wage]
OnlyGenuineRainey
21st May 2018
7:57am
Jaycee1, I was not implying that there are no poor people out there who genuinely didn't have the opportunity to save. I understand the challenges you face very well, because my mother was widowed with a tiny baby and struggled with nothing all her life, and I overcame major disadvantage quite late in life.

My statement was that most of those I know, personally, wasted their money. And I object to Kathleen's constant harping that those of us who struggled to save a little should be stripped of all the benefits we earned through hard work and sacrifice while those with a little less enjoy handouts.

I'm not lacking compassion, Jaycee1. I am pleased that we have a pension system and medical care for those who can't afford to pay, and I support campaigns for a better deal for the disadvantaged. I'm just heartily fed up with the bashing of those whose hard work and extensive sacrifice has positioned them to APPEAR a little better off. Yes, I have some assets. I also have a partner with extensive health problems due to childhood abuse and serious injustice, and I have health issues myself due to childhood illness. We have a family situation that imposes heavy costs on us. I went without a lot to save to be able to weather these problems in my later years, and now I am denied any level of pension even thought my income is far less than that of vast numbers of pensioners, and Kathleen also wants me to pay for health care that pensioners get for free.

I'm just sick of the unfairness. And I resent people who can afford private health cover suggesting that I should be forced to pay hefty fees for health care while they take government handouts that I can't access. And no way I could afford health insurance!

I am very pleased that you are able to access a pension.

BTW. I never had superannuation. My partner did, but lost the lot due to fund mismanagement and union crime. He also retired disabled, at 55, but couldn't access a disability pension until he was 64 as he was deemed ''not sufficiently disabled'' (which was absurd!). We know what hardship is. We just happen to have been very innovative and hard working and had one or two small wins, plus lived very, very frugally for most of our lives. (Not now, because there's no benefit in having savings anymore. We'll have a much higher income when we've halved our assets!)
Linda
17th May 2018
12:59pm
Where I live during the holiday times like Christmas and New Year, most who can take that time off. Try to get into a private hospital or even decent ER treatment at a private facility at this time, even with high out of pockets for emergency room. Basically over the last several years, our experience has been patchy at best to get timely care when needed. We keep our private cover mainly because of the crowding in the public system. May I say that there is a lot of variation out there in the private sector. I had hand surgery on New Years day a couple of years back. The surgeon did not over charge, did an excellent job and I had very good attention afterwards. When the practitioners over charge, and the private hospitals are only half open, and the specialists are not available, private health cover seems to be very poor value. I have paid too much in some cases and at other times things were fair. Perhaps all concerned should take a look at what they are doing and consider the cream cakes they might lose if everyone decides it is not worth it anymore.
Placido
17th May 2018
1:12pm
When Medibank Private was sold off, I voted with my feet and jumped ship to a Health Fund that is still a Mutual fund.
floss
17th May 2018
1:16pm
They have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.Mick forget O.G we all know what he represents his rubbish fools no one.
MICK
17th May 2018
1:22pm
Glad somebody has noticed as I worry about Australians and their ability to see a shonk at times.
I must be getting old.....
niemakawa
17th May 2018
1:17pm
Who is correct?? This from PHI

“Private Health Insurance reforms have had a positive impact on PHI membership with the latest APRA figures showing an extra 50,000 Australians have taken out health cover in the 12 months ending March 2018. There is now a record 13.58 million Australians with either hospital cover, extras or both.
Private Healthcare Australia CEO Dr Rachel David said APRA’s data corrects a flawed Roy Morgan survey that claimed 250,000 people chose to drop PHI over the past year.
“This assessment is far from the truth. In fact more Australians than ever currently hold PHI. What people say they might do and what they actually do can be quite different and our research has repeatedly shown than 80% of people with PHI value it and want to keep it”, said Dr David.”
MICK
17th May 2018
1:27pm
Whilst the mainstream media are not known for honesty I would have thought they would be on the money on this issue.
APRA? Yeah, that's the government body which has brought in 'bail in' laws in our country and not bothered to tell citizens.
I cannot say either way niemakawa but given that rates for private cover are hiked up every year at 5%+ I suspect this article is correct as wages growth has been falling back for the last decade and the logical question is 'how could there be an increase in membership'?
Cheers
niemakawa
17th May 2018
1:34pm
MICK, I tend to agree with you.
Knows-a-lot
17th May 2018
1:29pm
It's obvious why people are leaving in droves: the outrageous hikes in premiums. The insurance industry has killed the golden-egg-laying goose.
cookie47
17th May 2018
1:43pm
The part i don't like about private health cover (and we have got it) is in my view you really paying for something that at the end of the day you don't know what you are going to be out of pocket. Yes other members have said "ask the Doctor" well true but its always the little surprises that you get in the post after a procedure. I've only had one procedure at a PRIVATE clinic where I've swiped my card and that's it, see you later..
This wont happen" BUT I'd like to see a single tier of private cover. Pay a fee and get fixed,and that's it.
I know top cover may do this but i think it should be guaranteed.. All the glossy pamphlets that are put out by the private Health Funds should be viewed and read with a grain of salt.
Kathleen
19th May 2018
3:20pm
It sounds like it is your policy. I have top cover with no surprises. I have an excess except for day surgery. So I need to make sure I have saved the excess but that is all. Some private funds cover any gaps and if you are paying top cover there should be no surprises. You demand a detailed account of costs and charges from the surgeon as some of those overcharge shockingly and there is no need to do that. It is greed. If Medicare covers an item the fund does too so it must firstly be a Medicare item. Contact your fund before purchasing anything or accepting a surgeon or hospital. They will tell you if something is awry!
George
17th May 2018
2:32pm
Same old issue, nothing changed, a dying industry which doesn't seem to wake up, and only survives because of Govt support!

The Private Health Insurance system in Australia is a fraud on the people, as the Govt forces it on people (with penalties), approves large increases in premiums every year, and yet forces Patients to bear the Risk of Gaps and high Doctors fees. Insurance companies need to bear these Risks of Gaps (all except 15% of Medicare Scheduled Fees) and high Doctors Fees, including for costs of Diagnostic Tests and Pharmaceuticals. Otherwise it is NOT Insurance, simply a dodgy scheme to refund part of costs. Insurance companies are getting away with a complete con on people without taking on these Risks, and making great profits with big bonuses for their CEOs.

The Govt needs to ACT - Change Laws as needed, and allow / persuade / force Insurance companies to cover all Risks for Gap Fees and all Medical Costs (all except 15% of Medicare Scheduled Fees), cap Doctors' fees (to say max 25% above scheduled rates), and then create a competitive market by ensuring Standard Products with FULL coverage & NO GAPS are offered.
Adrianus
17th May 2018
2:58pm
The out of pocket expenses has always been a huge problem for patients. I know of at least 2 people who have told me that although they have PHI they may decide to go public depending on the circumstances.
There are always job vacancies in the medical profession all over the country. This is where we need the 457 visas. Last time I was in Hospital, it felt like I had been on a world trip. (general) I saw an Indian Dr, a nurse from Croatia, another nurse from Phillipines, my surgeon from the UK and another surgeon from Iran.
Bes
17th May 2018
3:53pm
The only thing in favour of Private seems to being able to get a selective procedure done with little waiting time. But I will relate my experience of January this year.
I was admitted to a private hospital Jan 18 for a knee replacement.
Upon arrival I was booked in and escorted to a waiting room. From there after a short wait I was taken to a disrobing area and wearing a gown was escorted to another waiting room full of people dressed in the same attire.
I was then asked to follow a doctor who was to take a blood sample to measure my INR. With no rooms available he took me into a changing room and with me sitting and he on bended knee took my blood sample and then escorted me back to the waiting room.
After some time a man with a wheelchair came and wheeled me to the pre op ward where the usual tests done and questions asked. Upon being asked what procedure I was there for I answered a replacement of my left knee.
Soon afterwards two gentlemen in theatre garb arrived and wheeled me to the operating theatre where a heated discussion took place between a senior nurse and the two gentlemen.
It seemed that the nurse won the confrontation and I was wheeled back to the pre-op ward and parked. After a half hour they returned and took me back to the theatre.
This time I was allowed to stay!
I received one visit the next day from a physio and never saw one again.
My admission was on a Thursday a 13:30 and I was discharged on the Saturday. (I missed lunch) I was given a bag full of 4 different drugs with no instructions other than what was on the boxes. One Twice per day. I had to call back to find out if there was any particular order.
Having Private Insurance it ONLY cost me $250.00 while my friend who had both knees done by the same surgeon in the same hospital as a public patient at no cost!!
Upon sorting through my paperwork at home I discovered that my Admission sheet indicated that I was admitted for a replacement of my RIGHT knee.
The procedure was for my LEFT knee for which I have the scars as proof.
This paperwork was corrected at a later date.
All follow up physio was organised by my GP.
So much for PRIVATE.
OnlyGenuineRainey
20th May 2018
11:58am
Yep! I was asked to arrive at 6 am for 9 am surgery. Waited, as instructed, and when at 8am I still hadn't been called, I inquired at the desk and was impatiently told to sit down and wait to be called. Inquired again at 8:30 saying my surgery was scheduled for 9. Same response. Called at 8:50, I was abused for keeping the doctor surgeon and told to undress faster. When I complained that I'd asked twice why I hadn't been called they said the clerk had put my file in the wrong place because ''you arrived too early'' (5:50am!). I was yelled at continually until I was wheeled into the surgery, told I had caused the surgeon major scheduling problems that would mean others would have their surgery postponed.

Came out of surgery and asked for water or ice for a dry mouth but told I might choke as there were no staff available to supervise. After hours of misery, I was finally given ice to suck when my partner arrived to visit and was asked to hold me up so I didn't choke.

Next day, partner arrived to take me home but I was told I had to shower first and ordered to strip and sit on a bench in the bathroom and wait for a nurse as I might faint if I stood in the shower. Shivered and turned blue, waiting for 45 minutes. Finally got up and showered myself, dressed, finished packing, and was just about to head to the front desk when a nurse arrived and yelled and raged at me that I could cause her to lose her job by not waiting. If I had fainted, she would be sacked and I could sue her if I suffered hurt. She then confessed she was quitting to move to public, along with seven colleagues, because the private hospital (a very expensive one!) was focused totally on profit and there was insufficient staff to give patients proper care.

Went home very ill and was ill for two weeks. Went to doctor's office for follow-up cons and was told he would not see me because I had not yet paid the bill. I had cheque book and invoice in hand and had apologized for delay explaining I'd been really ill and wanted to query why the bill was 20% higher than quoted. Partner asked the doctor, when he appeared to call another patient, if it was normal to be really sick after the procedure. Doctor said ''can't answer that. Pay the bill IN FULL and make another appointment.'' They were booked up for three weeks, so I went to another doctor who diagnosed a virus - thankfully not related to the surgery though possibly contracted in the hospital.

Complained to AMA about the 20% overcharge and they claimed there had been complications that required additional treatment. (Not true!) My health fund dropped the doctor and surgeon from their list of approved providers, but I still ended up thousands out of pocket.

So much for PRIVATE.
OnlyGenuineRainey
20th May 2018
11:59am
Should add that was over 10 years ago. I dropped private cover soon after, following a further bad experience.
Elizzy
17th May 2018
4:53pm
The problem is the GAP and as many have pointed out, it comes as a real shock and an insult when you have paid premiums for decades. At some point a government will have to deal with pricing by the medical profession. The AMA is never going to do it. I would gladly pay a higher Medicare levy if private insurance ceased. We should be paying into the public system for the comon good - a concept that seems to hold no currency these days.
niemakawa
17th May 2018
5:03pm
As more and more people leave the Private Health system the medicare levy will surely rise to cover the increase in patronage of Public Health system.
Elizzy
17th May 2018
5:45pm
I live in an EU country where the bulk of the population is privately insured for the gap, usually via a mutual. Health care levy via income taxation is relatively high. So far we have been 100% reimbursed except for having to pay for a room for day surgery. GP is 100% reimbursed and sometimes you pay 1 or 2 euros for scripts. Six weeks post-op nurse home visits 100% reimbursed.
Charlie
17th May 2018
5:47pm
The public system can deliver some complex and expensive procedures completely free.

I suspect that there are some things like chronic pain that the private system could do better as I wasn't happy with the public system response to this.

Going back 10 years the public system had some ridiculous and miserable waiting periods for chronic pain specialist appointments that extended to 12 months, usually just to get some highly restricted pain relief medications.
Cheezil61
17th May 2018
8:30pm
Never dropped out as was never in it, private health is not for the poorer end of town (huge rip off like most if not all insurances), I guess it'll jus be a funeral if I get hurt or smashed up or severely ill as no way I'd have the $ for med bills if Medicare don't cover me . Kids can pay for the funeral or put me on the bonfire down the back. It's certainly a rich man's world (or country in this case)
jaycee1
20th May 2018
5:00pm
LOL.
Have already paid for my funeral so the kids will not have to worry.
Do NOT buy funeral insurance as it is a con. I bought a prepaid funeral policy and paid it off over 3 years.
Very helpful when my husband died as both were almost paid off. Needed to find only about $1500, which the kids helped with.
maxchugg
18th May 2018
9:52am
The basic flaw in the system is that when you are young, healthy and low risk, health funds are very happy to take your money. In your later years they are more than happy for you to ditch your insurance.
Governments need to take into account the billions of dollars they have been saved by those who have covered their own healthcare costs all of their working lives and subsidize the cost of health insurance for these people. This should be done on a sliding scale, say 2% of premium costs for every year a person's insurance had operated at the time of retirement. So, if a person going onto a pension had maintained health insurance for 40 years, 80% of the premium would be subsidized.
Unfortunately the politics of envy have done the very opposite and healthcare subsidies for pensioners are under threat, causing them to be forced out of the system. As premiums continue to rise well in excess of the CPI, workers will eventually be forced to follow the exodus, the health insurance industry will collapse and all taxpayers will suffer as they have to fund the healthcare costs of people who were once insured.
There's an old saying "You never miss the water till the well runs dry." These days the "well" is leaking badly.
Onemore
18th May 2018
10:25am
Good thinking maxchugg, I reckon that the time will come when the Australian health system goes the same way as in the U.S.
There are signs of it already for what is covered in the premiums we pay to these burglars.
Scottishlass
18th May 2018
2:20pm
Well it had to happen. Allowing the private health fees so continually increase and out of pocket expenses to continually increase is too much for everyone. No longer value for money. The specialists and anaesthetists and surgeons have become greedy. And paying a bigger gap payment for a certain Anaesthetist does not mean your getting a better one. It’s what they decide to charge. Greedy. Some fantastic ones charge no gap. And some not so good ones charge large fees. And you have no idea until the day of surgery what you will pay. Fees should be capped. And transparent. And private health fees need to reduce or stay stagnant for at least 3 yrs. When a patient visits a surgeon he/she should inform of all out of pocket fees and show them how he compares to other surgeons in his field. Greed behaviour has to stop. And Govts need to stop the increases or public hospitals will be flooded and will cost them more in the end.
Old Geezer
19th May 2018
11:27am
I just can't believe all the whinging here. I have private health insurance and can't remember the last time I paid any out of pocket expenses for private or public hospitals. I negotiate all fees to be paid before I consent to being a public patient in a public hospital. If I need non urgent treatment then I negotiate no out of pocket expenses in a private hospital. My health fund pays for 2 dental check ups and preventive maintenance every year. They also pay for a new pair of glasses every year too. Had to see a specialist over 100 klms away and not only did the specialist bulk bill me but my health fund paid for my travelling. Every year I work out that I get back a lot more form my health fund than the premium I pay so it's certainly serves me well.
Onemore
19th May 2018
12:01pm
Old Geezer, you are such an amazing person, I wish that I had your knowledge and professionalism in all matters.
Oh well I will struggle on.
Scottishlass
19th May 2018
12:16pm
Old Geezer. You negotiate being a public patient in a public hospital? Do you mean private in public hospital ? Yes there’s no fees if in public hospital. No need to negotiate. But in private I doubt the doctors will negotiate. And not all Doctors do surgery in public hospitals. What private health fund are you in? Pays travel expenses ? Never heard of them covering travelling expenses.
Radish
19th May 2018
3:27pm
YES, you can negotiate with a hospital to have no out of pocket fees. I have not done it myself as touch wood I am pretty healthy but if the time comes I will do that.
Radish
19th May 2018
3:30pm
read this link

https://www.choice.com.au/money/insurance/health/articles/how-to-avoid-out-of-pocket-health-expenses
OnlyGenuineRainey
20th May 2018
11:33am
Yes, in theory you can. In practice, it's often impossible, because the doctor has to agree, and in every city I've lived in 99% of doctors tell you to take a hike the instant you ask to negotiate. The fee is the fee. Take it or go elsewhere.
OnlyGenuineRainey
20th May 2018
11:39am
As for OG's fantasizing... what a load of codswollop! Health funds do pay for 2 dental checkups a year, and a pair of glasses (depending on the frame selection and cost), but that won't come anywhere remotely close to equalling contributions. If it did, the funds would all be broke. The majority HAVE TO pay more than they consume of there is no capacity for payouts to those who make high claims and no profit. That's common sense. So only a total fool would believe OG's rants, and only a complete idiot would expect us to!

And no, funds DO NOT pay for travel. Nor do they pay 100% of the MAJORITY of procedures. Their limits on dental treatment are laughable. And there are all kinds of essential treatments that they don't cover at all for various reasons. One of my children needed one that was reclassified ''cosmetic/non-essential'' three months before her surgery - after I'd paid top cover for 12 years to ensure coverage. Even if they had covered it, I would have been up for thousands for follow-up treatments that were only 50% covered.
Radish
19th May 2018
3:26pm
Just see how long it will take to get procedures done in a public hospital now. You think wait times are long now....watch them go out even further.
Kathleen
19th May 2018
3:55pm
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ED482F77EC304A2DCA257BF0001D4C3F/$File/PPHC%20English%20Final%201.3.2011.pdf
People should be informed ahead about costs
OnlyGenuineRainey
20th May 2018
11:44am
And in an ideal world, you can enforce those rights. But just try battling with a doctor after he has ignored his obligation to honour that Charter - especially if you are very sick and in need of urgent treatment. Want to try arguing with a doctor or hospital admissions staff when you are struggling to breath with bronchitis or pneumonia, or in screaming agony with a ruptured organ? You can lodge a complaint afterward, but it isn't likely to get you very far.

I had hideous experiences as a private patient. Interestingly, every time I've gone public, the treatment has been impressive. Good luck perhaps?


Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

  • Receive our daily enewsletter
  • Enter competitions
  • Comment on articles