Ipswich residents who have Bupa health insurance are being urged to ensure they are not hit with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses or forced to travel further than necessary for private hospital treatment.
Bupa’s contract with Ramsay Health Care, which operates St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital, is set to expire on 2 August 2022, which could leave local residents facing additional fees for treatment at the hospital.
St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital CEO, Claire Thurwood, said while health staff have been working tirelessly during the Covid pandemic to care for the local community, the parties have been unable to reach an agreement that will cover the increasing wage and supply costs needed to ensure ongoing quality patient care.
“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to reach a new agreement with Bupa and our current contract will end in less than two months,” Ms Thurwood said.
“During the pandemic, our nurses have worked tirelessly to look after the local community and continue to provide excellent patient care.
“Our nurses and everyone here at St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital have worked hard to protect our patients from exposure to Covid, especially the most vulnerable people in our community. We have provided PPE, increased our cleaning, and delivered additional infection prevention training to our staff.
“This increase in vigilance and ensuring patient safety comes at a significant cost.
“Unfortunately, the new offer Bupa has put forward is well below inflation and well below what our hard-working staff deserve in terms of wage increases. Any agreement between Bupa and Ramsay must address the significant cost increases hospitals have been experiencing to protect our patients and health care workers.
“In the meantime, private health insurers accumulated $2 billion in profits.
“Unless a new agreement can be reached with Bupa by 2 August, Bupa patients accessing St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital may be required to pay the shortfall for treatment costs as an additional out-of-pocket expense.”
Ms Thurwood said Bupa patients wanting to access St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital may like to consider reviewing their private health insurance to ensure they know what they’re covered for.
The warning came after it was revealed there are around 1,800 people waiting for elective surgery at the publicly-operated Ipswich Hospital, with another 9,600 waiting to get on that list.
“For residents wanting to continue accessing St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital, it’s worth noting that Ramsay has agreements with all other private health funds in Australia.”
By law, consumers changing funds won’t have to re-serve the normal waiting periods again if retaining the same level of cover. More information is available in the Ombudsman’s Right to Change brochure: bit.ly/RightToChange2022
Ramsay Health Care is committed to continuing to work toward a fair and sustainable agreement with Bupa that removes the need for additional out-of-pocket costs to be passed on to patients. If an agreement isn’t reached, Ramsay’s contract with Bupa will be terminated from 2 August 2022.
More information is available at www.protectyourcover.com.au.