With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic upon us, some of our members have been asking about the value of their private health insurance with St.LukesHealth.
We understand that during this uncertain time, many of our members have had their life impacted due to reduced work hours and even job losses. This has forced people to consider where their income is best spent.
Recently you would have received a communication from St.LukesHealth outlining that we have postponed the April 1, 2020 premium increase. This is just one support mechanism to ensure that our members still receive value from their private health insurance while we navigate these uncharted waters.
More than ever, there is a value proposition in private health insurance.
Many of you have raised concerns with the value of your Extras cover now that social distancing measures have been introduced to Australian states and territories. St.LukesHealth has been actively working with industry to ensure that where possible, telehealth consultations can be implemented to continue to assist our members.
We have recently communicated that clinical psychology, counselling and physiotherapy have been accepted for telehealth and in coming weeks, we will introduce telehealth consultations for speech pathology, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, osteopathy, diabetes education and eye therapy where the services provided are clinically appropriate.
While dentists have been proactive to ensure they also assist in reducing the potential transmission of COVID-19 by reducing many of their services, the dental industry has assured us that they have procedures in place for any emergency dental work that is required. If you need access to your dentist, they can provide an assessment via the phone and treat you if they believe it clinically necessary.
Many of the service providers covered under our Extras products also have an online presence, particularly optical providers. Most optical providers have the ability to order online, enabling you to have your new glasses or contact lens delivered to your door if you have an existing script. If you do have changes to your vision, some providers are available and will consult with you if they believe it is clinically necessary.
St.LukesHealth’s health service delivery division – Salveo Healthcare Services - currently assists more than 300 members living with chronic disease, and we are looking to extend this by several hundred over the coming weeks.
Part of the challenge of COVID-19 is that information each day continues to evolve. But as a St.LukesHealth member, I want to articulate to you that regardless of COVID-19, if you do require urgent medical treatment – that is you require emergency care or a Category 1 (treatment within 30 days) or urgent Category 2 (treatment within 90 days) hospital patient - you can still be treated in a private or public hospital as a private patient with your choice of medical specialist.
While some elective surgery has been postponed until we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still surgeries occurring in private hospitals across Australia. The deferral of non-essential elective surgeries ensures that private hospitals have capacity when required and preserves the health sector’s scarce stocks of personal protective equipment like surgical face masks.
Further to note, if you do require admission to a hospital whether it be for in-patient psychiatric care, obstetric care, pain and wound management or even rehabilitation services, you can still access these as a member of St.LukesHealth. We have been working hard behind the scenes to identify ways we can provide you with the care you need through both face-to-face and telehealth consultations. We are negotiating with those providers and hospital groups that provide this care to ensure these options are available.
We expect to see hospital waiting periods increase dramatically after COVID-19. We have been assured by our private hospital partners that when they do return to normal working conditions, they will have capacity to offer shorter waiting periods for privately insured patients.
St.LukesHealth will continue to adapt to maintain valued products for our members and we will update you as more information becomes available.
From each one of us here at St.LukesHealth, thank you for choosing us for your private health insurance needs – we are proud to partner with you on your health journey.
Chief Executive Officer