Patients pay up

The Riverina Day Surgery is yet to secure contracts with two major health funds, leaving patients out of pocket if they elect to undergo procedures.
The Riverina Day Surgery is yet to secure contracts with two major health funds, leaving patients out of pocket if they elect to undergo procedures.

PATIENTS are having to fork out additional money on top of their private health insurance for procedures at a new Wagga surgery. 

Two major health funds – HCF and Bupa – are not yet contracted with the $12 million, state-of-the-art facility that opened in August. 

The Riverina Day Surgery website states the surgery offers more choice because Wagga Base has a long waiting list and the private Calvary Hospital doesn’t offer services like IVF or sterilisation. 

But with two of the major health funds not yet contracted, some patients are left with a hefty bill or a long waiting list elsewhere. 

One couple, who wished not to be named, would have been billed more than $1500 for their son’s grommets procedure at the surgery because their provider Bupa was not contracted. 

“The only option we have now is to reschedule my son’s day surgery, which had been planned to coincide with the school holidays, to Calvary (either its day surgery or main hospital) and there is a nine-week wait,” they said. 

“My son has a developmental delay and has been having trouble hearing, which is why we wanted to have this day surgery ASAP (and in the school holidays) so as not to impact on his learning at school.

“One would think that they should have had these types of contracts in place with all of the major health insurers prior to being operational.

“This is a major oversight on the part of the Riverina Day Surgery if you ask me and something that needs to be made public for those who are or planning to have day surgery there in the near future.

“It seems silly to have a brand new facility available that privately insured patients can’t access, depending on your fund, without paying a big cost.”

The Riverina Day Surgery website outlines it’s currently establishing contracts with all major health funds and advised patients to contact their health fund prior to surgery to ensure cover. 

Riverina Day Surgery director and general surgeon Dr Richard Harrison confirmed the surgery had secured contracts with 28 out of the 30 possible private health funds in NSW, including the biggest provider Medibank, and that they were in negotiations with HCF and Bupa to secure a contract.

“We’re wating for a contract to be supplied and it is our desire to have contracts that are equivalent to other private hospitals,” he offered. 

A HCF spokesman declined to elaborate on the status of its relationship with the surgery.

“Unfortunately HCF cannot comment on their arrangements with the Riverina Day Surgery at the moment,” he said.

“All I can say is that HCF is aware of the new day surgery facility, and that there are currently a number of other existing facilities in the Wagga area that HCF members can access.”

Bupa failed to respond to ongoing media requests.


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