THE war of words between Calvary Health Care and insurer Medibank over a new agreement between the two companies is continuing unabated.
Calvary on Thursday said Medibank’s decision to terminate contract discussions would restrict hospital access for patients and clinical autonomy for doctors – allegations the insurer has angrily refuted.
“Let us be clear, Medibank is reducing its payments for members while in a Calvary hospital, leaving its members to pay the difference,” Calvary chief executive Mark Doran said. “This could be somewhere between 15 and 25 per cent of its members’ cost while in hospital. Is Medibank prepared to reduce its members’ premiums by the same amount?”
A Medibank spokesman on Thursday, however, denied Mr Doran’s claims.
“Medibank will always pay for our members’ hospital treatments, even if we don’t have a contract with a hospital,” a Medibank spokesman said. “The difference is, without a contract, a hospital can choose to charge our members additional out of pocket expenses. Many hospitals we aren’t contracted with don’t, so if Calvary choose to do so, we want our members to call us so we can do what we can to help.”
Medibank and Calvary have been unable to agree on a new contract for the insurer’s customers to be covered when seeking treatment at the group’s hospitals.
The current agreement is set to expire on August 31 – which is less than three weeks away – and if a new contract is not sorted by Medibank and Calvary, it would send their relationship into uncharted territory.
Mr Doran said Calvary was of the view Medibank was simply trying to “flex its muscle” in the negotiations.
“This is not an approach that gives us confidence that Medibank will fund appropriate care for its members, now or in the future,” he said.
“The beneficiary of any reduced payments to hospitals is Medibank and its shareholders, the ultimate losers are Medibank members.”
The Medibank spokesman, however, said Medibank was simply trying to “deliver better health outcomes” for members.
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