Posted on February 24th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

Something that has been on my mind a bit lately is the money situation and how it plays out in different choices of treatment. It may be uncomfortable to talk about at times, but it maybe helpful for some who are considering these issues.

When I was still at Uni, my Dad wisely organised a friend of his to set up life insurance for me. At the time I thought it was a bit of a hassle having payments coming out of my student wage, but alas, it was sorted. Libs and I reviewed the policy and set hers up when we were married. Thankfully, we chose a policy option that has proved helpful for us with trauma cover.

On filling out the necessary paperwork when I was diagnosed, the trauma cover was payed out with no complications. This subject may not be high on your agenda, but I make mention of it because it has been incredibly helpful to us during this time, and I am really thankful that Dad got me onto it when he did. It has just relieved us of any potential financial stress that we could do without at this time. So this is just our experience. Do with it what you will.

The other issue is more specific to Australia with our Public versus Private Health care system. For those not familiar to Australia’s health system, your health care is free and medications are subsidised generally through the public system. You can opt to be treated privately and pay for it or be covered by a private health insurer. There are lots of perks that come with private cover, such as shorter waiting lists and sometimes ‘nicer’ facilities.

Before I knew how sick I was, Elizabeth was organising her health insurance so we both opted to get full private hospital cover. This, by the way, happened 2 days before I was diagnosed when all I knew was that my chest was sore. Timing. So we started off private, and all the medical staff were excellent, as was the treatment. Due to a set of circumstances, I was admitted publically via Emergency when I had my hip/pelvis fractures. So many tests were run that we decided to stay with public.

I make mention of this because I was talking with a person recently who underwent chemo and radio therapies privately and paid the gap (kind of like an excess). I don’t know the full details of the treatment, so I can’t comment on the exact reasons why the cost was so high, but she mentioned she was paying $1000 a week in gap fees, totalling (so far) $40000. In my experience and opinion, I have been exceptionally happy with the treatment and professionalism I have experienced while being treated publically, as I was privately, but that sort of bill we can do without.

Now of course, everyone’s experiences and circumstances are different, and I do not present this information to make the private option seem unjustified. As it stands, we pay a nominal fee for our consults and this money goes straight into cancer research. Even now, after almost a year of treatment, we haven’t claimed anything from private health cover. The only major expense has been any imaging that we have had done to avoid the long waiting lists that accompany the public health option at the moment.

As I say, this is just our experience, please take it as such or feel free to comment with your own experiences. The understanding is that it may differ between what the sicknesses or injury is, hospitals, departments, doctors, nurses, states and countries. Whatever the case, this topic is all way above the bottom line. The bottom line is that we are so thankful that we have any access at all to health care of any description.



Comment on February 24th, 2008.

I agree. We are so fortunate to be in Australia with its excellent healthcare, both private and public. My only experience is KEMH, but i have always gone there as a public patient and i have always been treated very, very well. Having Matthew there was just the icing on the cake, as it really did feel like everyone was bending over backwards to help me, support me and encourage me. You almost feel as though, when you leave, you shoulld go to the front desk and hand over your credit card and ‘check out’. But i think private patients get their mini-bar restocked for free though.

Guy in the public hospital bed

Comment on February 24th, 2008.

I absolutely agree with your affirming words about the public hospital system. We have been under the public system for a long time and have had no regrets at all. You still get cared for and access to the best medical expertise in the world. I’m wrapped your experience of the public health system is so positive.

Three cheers for the Australian health system and for Cam who remind us how lucky we are. For those who knock it, go live overseas for a while and then rethink your judgement.*

*Overseas does not include Rottnest Island.


Comment on February 25th, 2008.

Mention the words “Health Care” and people in Australia will always have a comment whether it be positive or negative based on their previous experiences with either the public or private system.

We are all truly fortunate in this country to be able, in any way, shape or form to have access to a health system that is designed for just that – easy access.

Having had previous experience with both private and public health – (my mother – private) (my husband – public) both battling cancer and both requiring very similar treatments, tests, scans and imaging – I personally found the public system to be a lot less red tape and form filling.

Obviously for non essential/critical treatment the waiting lists in the public system are quite long but as mentioned, the care you receive, the help, guidance and overall treatment through my experience has been second to none.

After various hospital stays my husband and I left the ward,
said goodbye to doctors & nurses with a wave and a smile, walked out the main entrance, into the car and home. No forms, payments, checklists – just some medications.

On the other hand with my mother it was quite large gap payments under the private system because her chemo and radio therapies were initiated through the private system. Unfortunately the private sector of health insurance becomes a little complicated and difficult to understand when you are elderly and focusing on getting through the next treatment regime.

I think my mother – as do I, feel that you are paying quite substantial premiums for full private health insurance and would perhaps not expect to be out of pocket to the tune of hundreds of dollars a pop.

Food for thought I guess – in both scenarios you receive excellent care both physically and emotionally (very important!!) Personally the public hospital system worked extremely well for my husband – bearing in mind – they were all emergency situations and had high priority.

As long as people are comfortable and satisfied with whatever care they are receiving and are finding peace of mind in doing so – I guess it is a very personal choice.

P.S. I live in Victoria!! (By name and nature)



Comment on February 25th, 2008.

May be its God’s provision for you at this time. As you know Greg lost sight in his eye when he was a teenager. He knew one day he would have to have his eye removed. (Gruesome thought I know). We kept our hospital cover for that day sometime in the future. That day came when we were travelling around Australia. Greg was admitted as an emergency patient to the Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne. He had the best surgeon in the Southern Hemisphere. He was in the best hospital in Australia for the condition he had. The Lord provided babysitters for us for 3 mths while we went to and fro from Melbourne. The Chaplain was a friend of some friends. Greg had surgery. After surgery Greg was sent to the best Ocularist (to get a prosthetic eye) in Australia (the suburb his rooms were in, were Glen Iris – God has a sense of humour too!). None of this cost us anything, but God provided the best. Because he was admitted at emergency he was a public patient right up to the prosthesis. We believe that God provided for us more than we could have imagined. What a blessing it is to be ‘covered’ in such a way.


Comment on February 26th, 2008.

I so love hearing positive things about one’s own. That is, people living in a country actually affirming the services in their own town. We are in the UK and it is quite the opposite…only ever horror stories. Good experiences must happen, but they are not considered worthy of chewing over. It’s so great to see something good…and say it! (To be fair to our public good experiences don’t happen VERY often here so p’haps there are not alotta happy vibe stories to share. Grin.)

I am so stoked to be moving back to a health service that I’m really proud of. Like the weirdo in the ‘public hospital bed’ says ;-) ‘before you knock it go live overseas for a while’. He is SO right. Onya Cam. xkt

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