Medibank Private has announced that it will exclude restricted cover services from hospital policies. It is believed that the change will affect hundreds of thousands of Medibank Private Members, leaving them uninsured for a range of common operations.
Medibank Private has informed affected members including those on the ”First Choice Savers” package that several common but costly procedures will be excluded from their cover from 1 April 2010. The services to be excluded from cover include: heart operations, hip replacements assisted reproductive services, knee joint replacement surgery, obstetrics, assisted reproductive services, plastic and reconstructive surgery and renal dialysis.
To maintain cover for these services, members have been advised by Medibank Private that they will have to upgrade to a higher level of cover that could cost as much as 50% more in premiums.
The Consumer Health Forum said the problem confronting consumers losing cover for treatments they thought they were insured against was common. ”We would recommend people review their level of cover regularly because we do know the funds make these changes,” executive director Carol Bennett said.
The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman also recommends consumers review their cover regularly.
Health Insurance Consultants Australia (HICA) Chief Executive Suzanne Still agrees that consumers find it difficult to keep track of what they are and what they are not covered for. “Health Minister Ms Roxon last month announced an average 5.78 per cent rise in premiums, however, the Medibank Private changes highlights that it is not only premium changes that consumers should review, but also changes to policy benefits” Still said.
HICA offer consumers a professional health insurance consulting and review service. Importantly, HICA provide clients with ongoing service to ensure that their policy remains appropriate to their needs and competitive priced. People can access this service by calling a trained consultant on 1300 732 757 or by completing a health cover assessment online. HICA’s services are provided to Australian individuals and families at no cost.