Health fund premiums may be waived

Australian Health Funds

Private Healthcare Australia (PHA) Chief Executive, Dr Rachel David, said Central Coast residents who are health fund members that are experiencing financial distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, should contact their health fund to discuss their options.

“These members are urged to contact their fund directly as they may be eligible to have their premium waived for an extended period.
“Health funds are currently putting programs in place to provide support for members,” Dr David said.
“The primary focus of health funds is to meet the needs of the community and members in these challenging and uncertain times, and offering financial support by way of premium waivers is an important first step,” she added.
According to Dr David, health funds are also fast-tracking access for members to teleconsultations with psychologists while Australians’ movements are restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Individual telehealth consultations with psychologists are well supported by the evidence, and health funds want to make sure that members are able to continue with their treatment, as it is obviously a very stressful time for many Australians”, said Dr David.
The majority of health funds have agreed to provide coverage for teleconsultations provided by psychologists subject to.
Dr David said that initially it might be difficult to ensure that benefits are paid quickly, as electronic claiming systems (in particular, HICAPS) and some health funds’ processes are not set up to deliver benefits for telehealth services, but noted that this was being addressed by individual funds in cooperation with the Australian Psychological Society.
Dr David said maintaining mental health was critically important and health funds were committed to delivering rapid access to evidence based telehealth services for their members.
“While psychology is first off the mark, PHA is working with providers to quickly assess the effectiveness of telehealth treatment in their clinical area and expect to have more announcements on telehealth coverage over the coming weeks,” she said.

Press release, Mar 27
Jen Eddy, Private Healthcare Australia