Road to hospital full of obstacles

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Despite Western Australia having some of the best healthcare in the world, some regional and isolated residents face big challenges to access it.
Camera IconDespite Western Australia having some of the best healthcare in the world, some regional and isolated residents face big challenges to access it. Credit: Getty Images

After several weeks in the city dealing with medical issues we’re heading home.

However, this isn’t the end of it and we’ll need to be back in four to six weeks.

Sounds straightforward enough.

That is until you start looking at the private versus public hospital issue.

Having private health cover for more than 30 years we didn’t think it unrealistic that we could just request the surgery be done in a private hospital and our costs covered as per our policy.

However, it seems, that’s only the case provided you use the health insurer’s “preferred surgeons”.

Ours isn’t, yet changing at this stage is not something we’re keen to do.

So our surgeon has booked us into the public system, for now, while we try to find out what it will cost to have him do the operation in a private hospital.

Apparently, to do this you must have the item numbers for the procedure.

That’s like trying to pull hen’s teeth, we’ve found.

We have nothing against the public health system other than we know a surgery date can be booked and confirmed more quickly in a private hospital, which allows us time to get organised.

Meanwhile, a day after meeting the surgeon we were advised we have a telehealth appointment in Meekatharra in a fortnight.

This is for pre-admission tests and a meeting with the medical team via teleconference.

Logic says that “if you have a pre-admission date” you must have an admission date.

Not so.

The lovely telehealth lady said their system is just “triggered” to set up the appointment, but they have no knowledge of the actual admission date.

So we wait for information about item numbers to ascertain out-of-pocket expenses in the private system or an admission date for a public hospital, and when we get one or the other we can move forward.

Meanwhile, we bear the cost of a return trip and seven weeks in Perth because we are not eligible for the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme due to the fact we prefer to have medical treatment in Perth, not Geraldton.

If we went to Geraldton it would be 1600kms return and 49 nights accommodation.

Yet Perth is 2000km return and we have a place to stay.

You do the maths.

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