Hospital and Health Fund Hi-jinks!

Written by

Rob Buist

Published on


Given that Australia is successfully flattening the Coronavirus curve and I don’t really have anything new to report on that front, I thought it time to digress on to…your Health Fund and your Private Hospital.

Some of you may already be aware that negotiations between Healthscope (the owners of Prince of Wales Private Hospital – POWP) and some health funds have broken down such that some of you may be not be fully covered for your hospital expenses during your stay. Now I am obviously not aware of the commercial imperatives of any of those organisations and it would be completely inappropriate of me to be critical of any party in all of this.

However unfortunately, to misquote Winston Churchill, this is just the beginning of the beginning.

I think everyone knows the Australian Health / Health Insurance / Private Hospital (and even Public Hospital) system is pretty screwed up and long overdue for reform. There are more than enough absurdities, inequities and inconsistencies to go round (like using your health insurance when you’re a patient in a public hospital but receiving nothing different from the public patient in the next bed, for one). The problem is no government will ever have the courage to properly reform the system so the public hospitals, the insurers, and the private hospitals are left to slug it out – remembering the latter two often have shareholders wanting to see a return on their investment.

…Which leaves you and I as the meat in the sandwich (and, speaking for myself, I wouldn’t mind if the funds or the hospitals were willing to help out with my indemnity costs – around $100k per year – but I’m not holding my breath).

I am absolutely in favour of sensible fair reform of the private health system even if that means I have to take a haircut myself (hopefully just a little, trim, obviously). What I am really unhappy about is you and I being the first wave out of the trenches to face the cost cutting machine guns because others feel the system – including their own profit base – is unsustainable (to use another metaphor).

And, to be perfectly frank, I fear there is more to come.

Anyway, in the short term I’d really like you to talk to me if you are affected by any of these changes and I will do all that I can to help. After all Ben Lee wasn’t just predicting the Coronavirus when he sang “We’re all in this together…”