Private agreement cut

Maryvale Private Hospital patients covered by health fund HCF will be forced to change insurers or travel to Melbourne for hospital care, after a provider agreement between parties ended over the weekend.

In a letter sent out to its Gippsland members, or those who had previously visited Maryvale Private, earlier this month, HCF said the hospital had decided to terminate its provider agreement, effective 21 September, despite lengthy discussion between the parties.

“This is important as you may now face substantial out of pocket expenses for hospital charges if you are admitted to MPH,” the letter stated to its members.

While it is unclear how many Gippsland-based HCF members would be affected by the collapse in negotiations, MPH chief executive Kerry Snare said about 98 per cent of Maryvale patients remained covered under agreements with other health funds.

“We’ve renegotiated our other provider agreements with numerous health funds, both large and small, but unfortunately we weren’t able to come to an agreement with HCF,” Ms Snare said, adding it was the first time in MPH’s 23-year history a provider agreement had not been reached with a health fund.

“These discussions were going on for a number of months, but we need to be mindful of our members and ensure that we can continue to be sustainable to provide the quality of care that we are famous for,” Ms Snare said.

She said while costs associated with inpatient services, such as accommodation and theatre fees, were of considerable dispute during negotiations, there were many other factors which contributed to the disagreement.

With MPH the only private hospital between Berwick and the eastern border, HCF members are now faced with the decision of whether to stay with the insurer.

Stunning discovery

Having undergone numerous major operations in her lifetime, 75 year-old Traralgon resident Jan Moore has had private health cover since 1963, and said she was “stunned” when she received the letter from HCF earlier this month.

“We have got a wonderful private hospital here, but now I will have to go to Melbourne to have any of these procedures take place,” Ms Moore said.

“I have all kinds of serious needs at this point in my life, and I really don’t want to face the risk of incurring more money than I have to, if I am to go to hospital or insurer.

“I don’t know how I stand with my (medical) priors if I go to another fund, and whether that will have a big impact on the premium I pay.”