HCF launches industry first tool to help Australians avoid bill shock

Sydney, 3 March, 2017 – HCF, Australia’s leading not-for-profit health fund, today launched its innovative Preparing for Hospital tool, an online bank of easy-to-use resources to help people better understand some of the most common hospital procedures – from details of the procedure through to potential out-of-pocket costs.

According to HCF, the tool empowers consumers, reducing uncertainty caused by complex pricing and procedures, by arming them with information. It follows release of comprehensive data collected in the 2016 HCF Hospital Patient Experience Survey which showed a significant disconnect between member expectations and actual experiences in hospitals.

Featuring videos, 3D animations and interviews with HCF members, the Preparing for Hospital tool provides clear and easy to understand information on a range of common procedures – including hip replacement, colonoscopy, child birth and tooth extraction - learn how procedures work, how to prepare, what to expect during admission, and what aftercare is needed. A cost indicator outlines the typical procedure costs and potential out-of-pocket expenses for common procedures, as well as the difference the choice of doctor or hospital can make.

Shaun Larkin, HCF Managing Director, said: “National data shows hospitalisations in Australia are increasing*, with 10.2 million hospitalisations recorded in 2014-15, of which 2.5 million involved surgery**. Insights from our members has shown there is a gap in perception versus reality when it comes to the cost of going to hospital. To improve outcomes, it is our responsibility as a health fund to ensure we are supporting Australians as best we can when they need to go to hospital – it is a particularly vulnerable time for patients - and we hope to empower them to make informed decisions about their health.

“HCF is focused on delivering value to our members and this includes a commitment to ensuring health insurance is easy to understand and affordable. The Preparing for Hospital tool helps consumers avoid bill shock – one of the key issues plaguing our industry – by providing a more complete picture of the costs associated with medical and surgical procedures.

“The cost indicator provides an average cost of a procedure in private hospitals. It breaks down how much of the total cost is paid by HCF, Medicare and the member. It also shows a breakdown of key costs for a procedure including the surgeon, pathology, anaesthetist and other specialists. This gives our members a more complete picture of the costs associated with medical and surgical procedures.

“We have long been committed to addressing issues of affordability and helping members have a clearer understanding of relative costs. We are proud to be the industry leading no-gap scheme for medical services, offering the highest rate of no-gap participation in every state and territory, and we outperform the industry average^,” Mr Larkin said.

HCF recently partnered with Healthshare, a website which allows Australians to find a health professional and filter results to show providers that participate in the HCF No-Gap and Known Gap scheme. This means patients can request their GP to refer them to a specialist with no out-of-pocket costs or known out-of-pocket cost of up to $500, at the location of their choice.

“We’re the first health fund to partner with Healthshare to provide this sort of information to patients. This empowers people right at the beginning of the process, rather than waiting until they see a specialist and only then discover the size of any out-of-pockets. We have over 35,000 participating specialist doctors and work hard to ensure we maintain this high level of participation,” Mr Larkin said.

The Preparing for Hospital tool can be accessed at: www.hcf.com.au/preparing-for-hospital


The following spokespeople are available for interview:

  • Shaun Larkin - HCF Managing Director
  • Cindy Shay - HCF Chief Officer Benefits and Strategic Relations

Issued on behalf of HCF by WE Buchan. Media inquiries to:

About HCF

HCF, Australia’s leading not-for-profit health fund, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and approximately 10,000 providers participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health.

To learn more about HCF go to hcf.com.au/about-us

*Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s hospital admissions rising, 19 March 2015, accessed here.

**Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s hospitals 2014-15 at a glance, 29 July 2016, accessed here.

^Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, State of the Health Funds Report 2015, accessed here.