Self Pay Surgery ‘brings transparency for patients’

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Healthe Care Australia has launched a new program aimed at providing private hospital facilities and services to people without private health cover.

Self Pay Surgery is based on a model used in the United Kingdom, and provides patients with an alternative to public hospital waiting lists and private health insurance, by offering a “package deal” for surgery at a single price.

Healthe Care Australia's Executive General Manager, Lloyd Adams, said the program had a range of benefits.

“This is offered across most UK private hospitals and it actually accounts for 30 percent of their revenue,” he said.

“It’s about offering a fixed price for surgery and it’s all included, so there’s transparency for the patient. All hospitals treat uninsured patients, but this is about giving the patient full financial consent.”

The Self Pay Surgery package includes the surgeon’s fees, anaesthetist, hospital stay, diagnostic testing and, where appropriate, rehabilitation. 

Australians are able to access private hospitals as self-funded patients if they do not have private health insurance. Costs will vary depending on the surgeon you choose and other clinicians’ fees. However, for many day procedures, the full cost of surgery is likely to be less than a year’s health insurance premium.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, self-funded patients account for about seven percent of private hospital patients.

The full price for each of the packages is clearly displayed on a single website, with trained patient liaison staff available to answer any questions and support patients through the three-step process.

“Navigating the public and private healthcare systems can be extremely challenging, particularly for elderly patients or those suffering from pain and illness,” Mr Adams said.

“Instead of waiting two to three years or more on a public wait list, they can get in and have their surgery done by a qualified surgeon in a private hospital and be back on the road to recovery within weeks.”

Mr Adams said the initiative was not about “taking patients”, it was simply there as an option for those who needed it.

“For people who can afford it, this is a great option – they’re leaving the public waiting list, and giving their spot on that waiting list to someone who maybe can’t afford this option,” he said.

“We’ve done more than 100 patients since launching in August last year, and no-one’s had a bad experience yet.”

The Self Pay Surgery packages include same-day procedures such as gastroscopy, colonoscopy, wisdom teeth and cataract surgery, shoulder arthroscopies and weight-loss surgery.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the need for the public and private healthcare sectors to work together more closely to address the needs of our community,” Mr Adams said.

“During COVID, we had a lot of public patients come through and they had a great experience. They wanted to know ‘how can we come back here?’

“Self Pay Surgery offers patients the opportunity to have their surgery performed sooner, by a fully-accredited surgeon, in a high-quality Healthe Care facility. 

“The service also provides an alternative for the many Australian families that are ineligible to access Medicare. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Healthe Care Australia, the country's third-largest private healthcare provider, will roll out Self Pay Surgery across its 34 sites nationwide.

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