Out of Pocket Expenses

leonie havnen
leonie havnen Member Posts: 19
edited November 2012 in General discussion


Hello everyone, below is the email that I have sent to the Hon Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Health as my request for an appointment.


 

Hello Tanya





  

I would like to come and meet with you to discuss the 'out of pocket expenses' that people like myself who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness who as a result of being a private patient are burdened with outrageous out of pocket expenses as a result of their life saving medical treatment.

  

I am a single mother and I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Aggressive Breast Cancer, a year ago today, and as a result of my age and earnings I am expected by the Federal Government to pay Private Health Insurance, which I have done for more than 25 years.  I also pay up to $30,000 a year income tax my Medicare levy for financial year 11/12 was almost $1900.00 on top of another $450 for Flood Levy.  I received a paltry amount of $660 tax return, even though I submitted $20,000 in out of pocket medical expenses as a result of my diagnosis of Breast Cancer the required treatment to save my life.  The reason why I received so little in return, was that the monies that I had released by my superannuation funds (which were taxed going in and taxed again upon being released), was added in the financial year as INCOME! So I was charged a hefty Medicare levy and flood levy, which swallowed up whatever funds I may have received as a rebate on medical expenses.

  

What I would like to see happen, is that for people who are diagnosed with a life threatening illness, the following is put in place, so that people like myself do not have to access their Superannuation, extend home mortgages, take out personal loans or declare bankruptcy in meeting the spiralling costs of life saving treatment who go through the Private Health, for their treatment. 

   

1.    Safety Net for people diagnosed with a life threatening illness, the safety net is accumulative and does not have a cease date until a medical professional formally advises Medicare that no further treatment is required.  For the Medicare Safety Net to commence on 1 January and cease 31 December each year is deplorable.  An individuals severe illness does not operate within the boundaries of a calendar year!

  

2.    All medical testing for life threatening illness's is bulked billed by Medicare.  In the first week of me being diagnosed with Breast Cancer I paid the following:

 

    a.    $1200.00 Sydney Breast Clinic

    b.    $950.00 Centinal Breast Scan

    c.    $450 2 x Specialist Appointments

 

As a single mother supporting a son (in casual employment) and a daughter through University these initial costs were paid by credit card quickly consuming whatever credit I had left.  These costs were just the tip of the iceberg!

 

3.    That all medications directly related to the individuals diagnosed illness are provided at the same rate as if they were a holder of Health Care Card.

 

4.    The Medicare and Health Insurance Industry Rebates are bought into line with current living costs, and in particular those individuals diagnosed with a life threatening illness are NOT out of pocket for medical treatment.  Why should an Australian citizen who pays, taxes, health insurance and Medicare levy be asked to pay additional costs because of accessing the Private Health system, especially as this is what the Federal Government expect Australian citizen's to exactly do, so as to not place a burden on the Public Health System.  The current system, screams of discrimination.

 

5.    Those of us who have had to access their Superannuation through your portfolio - Early Release of Superannuation Branch, are provided with advocates to assist in the completion of forms and have free of charge  via Centrelink Offices, access to use photocopiers, scanners and internet in processing their applications.  That when the application is received by Early Release of Superannuation Branch, that contact is made with the individual and they are then provided with a direct phone number to their case manager to discuss the progress of their claim.  I am asking this request as I found when applying to access my superannuation it was a very frustrating and distressing time.  I had undergone 12.5 hours of life saving surgery and chemotherapy, which resulted in me being extremely frail, this was at a time when I was expected to collect numerous documents as part of my application to have superannuation funds to be released.  It was an extremely distressing time, which I might add took almost 6 months to finally have funds released.  During this 6 months, was a critical phase in dealing with my illness and treatment, and to have to deal with the bureaucratic red tape was exhausting  which caused me great anxiety.

 

I have attached for your information copy of Sunday Telegraph 18 November 2012, Article and Comments to date.

 

I look forward to meeting with you to discuss this very important issue by way of having it placed on the Political Agenda for Labour to make these desperately needed changes so that there is equality for all.

 

kind regards

 

 

Leonie Havnen

044 7000 522





 


 

 

Comments

  • susieFA
    susieFA Member Posts: 66
    edited March 2015

    Leonie, well done you!  You have written about what so many women are facing, in one way or another.  Such an important part of your message is about the added stress on a person at the very time they need to be concentrating on just getting through.  I wish you every best luck with getting a response and bringing about change.

    Congratulations

    Susie

  • leonie havnen
    leonie havnen Member Posts: 19
    edited March 2015

    Thanks Susie

    I am still waiting to hear back from the Minister's office about a meeting.  If I haven't heard by Friday I will be calling them.  I will continue to keep everyone updated on the progress of things via this blog.  Also will be putting a call to NSW Minister for Health also, best to cast the net as far and wide as I possibly can!

     

    cheers

    Leonie

  • susieFA
    susieFA Member Posts: 66
    edited March 2015

    I'm watching with interest.  I wasn't able to access my super so got more than you on my tax return but it turned out to be just enough to cover the overdue outgoings to that point.  All savings went within the first few weeks because my surgeon ordered every test possible - for which I am grateful, however, confused as to why some were up to $800 out of pocket with private health insurance.  Like you, I've paid it for 30 odd years as long as I was in Australia and have ended in debt anyway.  I admire you for taking a stand on this issue.

    s

  • leonie havnen
    leonie havnen Member Posts: 19
    edited March 2015

    Hi Penny

    Yes it certainly isn't fair is it, you pay taxes, health insurance and medicare levy and you are still out of pocket for life saving treatment.  It really is outrageous.

    My appointment with Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has been confirmed for 12 December 2012, @2pm.  I will post on my blog how the meeting goes.  It was interesting the other day I was flicking through an old womens day and Kerri-Anne Kennerly was talking about her diagnosis of breast cancer also.  She raised the issue herself the outrageous costs and believed that the Government should do something about this, well I guess I am trying to do something about this.

    Let me know how you go with your local member, mine hasn't even bothered to get back to me either has Tanya Plibersek, Peter Dutton or Tony Abbotts offices.  The only Parliamentarian who has responded (within 24 horus) was Senator Lee Rhiannon.  Thankfully we have an election next year, and the time is right to start the lobbying!  If you need any assistance with meeting with your local member, you just need to ask me.

    take care

    Leonie

  • susieFA
    susieFA Member Posts: 66
    edited March 2015

    Hi Leonie

    Good luck for the 12th - I'm looking forward to hearing.  In the meantime, would you please let me know which issue of Woman's Day the article you refer to?  I'd like to read what is says about this problem.

     

  • susieFA
    susieFA Member Posts: 66
    edited March 2015

    Hi Leonie

    Good luck for the 12th - I'm looking forward to hearing.  In the meantime, would you please let me know which issue of Woman's Day the article you refer to?  I'd like to read what is says about this problem.

     

  • pennyy
    pennyy Member Posts: 40
    edited March 2015

    Hi Susie,

    I have a feeling the womens day article was about November 2011 (just after she was diagnosed). It was in relation to the lack of funding for MRI's or the medicare rebate for MRI's.

    Hope that helps

    Penny

  • leonie havnen
    leonie havnen Member Posts: 19
    edited March 2015

    Hi

    I think it was mid October - Womens Day - Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

     

    cheers

    Leonie

  • susieFA
    susieFA Member Posts: 66
    edited March 2015

    of course!  Thank you for getting back so quickly.  

    s

  • Daina_BCNA
    Daina_BCNA Member Posts: 796
    edited March 2015

    Hi Penny,

    I just want to jump in a link you into the online webinar that was presented in November for those with secondary cancers. It might have some useful tips for you at the moment and included info on budgeting, navigating centrelink, managing debts, accessing superannuation etc.

    Have a look and let me know what you think: http://www.bcna.org.au/news/2012-12/online-webinar-when-cancer-changes-your-financial-plans

  • Mopsy
    Mopsy Member Posts: 1
    edited March 2015
    What happened at your meeting, Leonie?
    I have a similar story in terms of out of pocket expenses, although I did have the funds to pay. The Medicare safety net is only for the scheduled fee, not for the charges over and above that. Although I have insurance, I am nearly $4000 over, just since September mostly surgeon, anaesthetist, and other specialists.
    M