Couple questions private health coverage over festive season
PRIVATE health insurance doesn't come cheap, but when you pay the premium you'd expect to access the services.
Nola Binder, 59, and her husband Andy, 63, are now considering cancelling their private health insurance after they were told they would have to go through the public system if surgery was required during the Christmas and new year period.
The couple are based in Coral Cove and like to take their caravan travelling, but have had to stay put over the holiday season because Mr Binder had to wait for surgery.
Mrs Binder said her husband had a hernia and was in quite a bit of pain, but when it came to booking an appointment for surgery, the couple were told he would have to wait until the Friendlies' theatre re-opened in the new year.
"When people get hernias sometimes they can go through the bowel and strangulate," Mrs Binder said.
"He had an ultrasound and found out the hernia wasn't strangulated, but when we went back to the GP and wanted to see a surgeon we were told there probably wouldn't be anyone around.
"Andy said, 'I've got pain and I want something done', but we were told the Friendlies theatres were shut over Christmas and new year and if it got worse we'd have to go to the base."
The former nurse couldn't believe the private system would close over the break.
"I phoned the Friendlies emergency department and they said we could come in and see a doctor however we'd have to pay the $120 to $220 fee with no rebate," Mrs Binder said.
"And when I asked if my husband would have to go through to theatre, the lady on the phone told me he would have to be referred to the public system.
"I just want to know, how many private paying patients are sent over to the public system each year because the Friendlies are closed?
"The base picks up the slack over that break every year and when private patients require surgery it puts pressure on an already failing public system."
Mrs Binder said her husband had to lay around waiting for surgery and wanted other private health members to know their premium services are no good over the break.
"I just think it's pretty poor we couldn't have anything done," she said.
"That's supposed to be why have private health insurance.
"I don't think it's unreasonable that one private hospital could stay open with staff or even have surgeons on call. Surely they could manage that. Even Hervey Bay wasn't an option."
Mrs Binder said even if the surgeons wanted the time off they could have brought in a locum worker to meet demands.
"I don't think it's fair, it's a poor system," she said.
"It's a sh--ty service for a city, we're not a small country town, and they need to get with the times."
The couple have an appointment to see Mr Pitt later this month to raise their concerns.
The NewsMail contacted the Friendlies yesterday and a spokesman said the hospital had been open during the Christmas period with the emergency department operating from 8am to 8pm as standard.
Late yesterday the NewsMail was unable to clarify what specialist services were operating during the festive period by time of print.