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New fees for radiation therapy as of 1/7/21

MaxymooMaxymoo Inner west Sydney Member Posts: 6
Hi everyone, hope your all travelling reasonably well especially those locked down in Sydney.

iha e just finished my TC chemo and am now getting ready to move onto 4 weeks of radiation therapy. I am having treatment at Lighthouse Sydney.  I nearly died when they told me the fees involved . $14,451!,,,, Up front with a rebate of $12,410 from Medicare.  I need to pay approximately $8000 up front then can recycle my refunds from Medicare to cover the the subsequent three payments of $2000 or so. Sorry my chemo brain isn’t up to exact numbers. Apparently these fees are only from 1/7 this year when Federal government changed the Medicare rebates. This is insane!!!!

There is no coverage from health funds( not that I have one) as it is outpatient treatment. Apparently fees apply to low income earners and card holders and financial counselling is available to assist people raise funds/ organise payments.
Whilst I am not super upset about the out of pocket it’s the upfront initial payment. I am lucky and have savings but other people may have to take out loans, when they’re all ready financially stressed being off work etc.

Apparently the co- contribution is up to 50% in some other Area Health Services out west ie Nepean, Westmead, Etc.

This is not on!!!  Cancer patients are being left out to dry. Anyone want to help me that this further?


  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 5,180
    Hi @Maxymoo

    I've found this link re medicare changes from 1/7 .... can't see radiation mentioned - but I haven't read it all, either

    Maybe ask for a quote from the Public Hospital Cancer Centres?  If you had it in done in a public hospital, you are saying the cost would have been about 50% 

    That's weird - so you are having your treatment at the Lifehouse (Chris O'Brien Centre) - yet their current blurb still says that Medicare will still take care of up to 80% of the costs ..... It sounds like you are being charged the full amount 'up front' then have to claim it back from Medicare, but with other intermediate costs as well?    I wonder why they don't just charge the 'gap'?    I like the term 'patient navigator' - they'd have to be VERY PATIENT with me!  grrr

    You don't have a current Concession Card?   They say it is free.

    I am guessing Lifehouse would mainly be for private treatment, wouldn't it? 

    Take care - so much to assimilate - after all your other treatment too!  :(
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 358
    Hi @Maxymoo

    I had private health but for radium there isn't a single private health fund in Australia that covers radium. I had a month of radium and it was $23000.

     It was all upfront but in stages eg $10000 and then Medicare was claimed and paid the same day, then I paid the balance in 3 payments each with Medicare paid the same day. I had to use my credit card and then use Medicare amount to pay the credit card. 

    At the time October 2020 my Medicare safety net meant I actually only paid 15% however this is still alot ie approximately $3500. Just insane really. Genesus who did my radium did discuss payment options. I guess if I hadn't had a credit card I may have had to negotiate with them regarding payment. They did offer that to me. 

    I haven't worked out the total cost of my treatment but with surgeon out of pocket, general appointments, hospital fees, physio etc it is alot. And on top of that is my private health premiums. 

    Australia's health care is great but private health is very expensive. It was like paying private health to pay even more. I guess I could have gone public and get the same treatment but here in Queensland there are queues. My private health meant immediate treatment. It's the only way I can look at it. 

    Perhaps BCNA could look to take this issue up so treatment could be less expensive for bc patients. 
  • AbbydogAbbydog Adelaide, South AustraliaMember Posts: 270
    I had all of my Surgery and Chemo, privately. BUPA paid up well.
    I was advised that I could have Radiotherapy at Public hospitals here in SA, at no cost.
    This was no problem, I had 5weeks Radiotherapy Sept and Oct 2020. At our Lyell McEwin Hospital.
    They also supplied and applied Mepitel, at no cost to me.
    I hope that this has not changed and is still available.
    The treatment went well, no complaints.
    I was warned that R/T done privately, would cost me a small fortune.
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,221
    @Maxymoo Don't assume that the facility you have been referred to is the only one available. Ask if there is one near you that bulk bills (a surprising number do) and don't tolerate any sniffiness about 'preferred' providers.

    When it comes to radiation, you will get exactly the same therapy in a public facility as you will in a private. The gowns and waiting rooms might not be as nice and you may not be able to nominate times that suit you, but you need to enquire before you decide what compromises you are willing to make.

    I'd love to see a royal commission into the specialist referral process. They do not have to give you options, so they don't. There is a degree of cronyism in that that most folk don't discover until it is too late.

    There may not be a cheaper option for you, but you won't know until you ask and they won't tell you unless you do. You may have to be quite insistent and don't just ask the person on the front desk. MXX
  • Keeping_positive1Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 185
    edited September 16
    It is a rort, isn't it!  You can ask at your local public hospital to see if you can have your radiotherapy there.  My local hospital doesn't have oncology radiotherapy, so I was referred to the closest private oncology radiology clinic and I wasn't out of pocket.  You will find a way around it.  You need to ask at a public hospital how to go about getting your radiotherapy treatement done through the public system, and from what I know the service is just the same.  Perhaps maybe not as fancy gowns to put on, but I wouldn't be paying that much to go private.  Wishing you all the best.
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