HCF reveals members claimed over 57 million dollars in kidney health treatment in 2017

SYDNEY, 05 MARCH, 2018 – HCF, Australia’s leading not-for-profit health fund, is calling on Australians to better understand their risk of kidney disease, after the company’s latest data shows HCF members claimed $57 million in kidney-health related expenses in 2017 alone.

In support of Kidney Health Week from 5 March to 11 March 2018, HCF joins Kidney Health Australia in highlighting the fact that one in three Australians are at risk of chronic kidney disease, yet less than 10 per cent of those are aware they have the condition[i]. Another 53 Australians die every day from kidney-health related diseases, with 1.7 million affected by chronic kidney disease.

HCF Medical Director, Dr Andrew Cottrill said, “Kidney disease is a growing health concern in Australia and is costly to treat if it isn’t detected early. Our data tells us that dialysis is the most common reason for kidney-related hospital care. If we can increase awareness and early detection of kidney health issues among Australians, we can spare many people from preventable hospital care, meaning better health outcomes for Australians.”

This fact is consistent with national data, noting that while there have been 10,551 Kidney transplants in Australia, there are still currently 12,461 dialysis patients needing constant medical care as well as a waitlist of 1,121 patients awaiting kidney transplant[ii].

Worryingly, people with chronic kidney disease often report little-to-no symptoms, with some patients presenting with a loss of 90 per cent of their kidney function before identifying an issue[iii]. Two of the most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure[1], conditions that affect 1.7 million[iv] and over 4.1 million[v] Australians respectively.

Dr Richard Phoon, HCF Councillor and Senior Staff Specialist in Nephrology at Westmead Hospital says that due to the often symptomless nature of kidney disease, it’s important for Australians to understand their risk factors, and get their kidneys regularly checked by a general practitioner.

“The impact of early detection is significant. If identified early, the otherwise inevitable deterioration in kidney function and associated increased risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced by as much as 50 per cent and may even be reversible[vi]”, explains Dr. Phoon.

“This Kidney Heath Week, with HCF, I’d like to urge all Australians to take steps to understand the symptoms and causes of kidney disease, especially those who might be at increased risk of kidney-related illness from associated conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or heart problems.

“If you know you’re at risk or are experiencing warning signs, ask your doctor for a Kidney Health Check – they will test your urine, blood and blood pressure to help determine your likelihood of developing kidney disease.” Dr Phoon said.

HCF provides a free support service to help eligible members manage their chronic conditions through the My Health Guardian chronic conditions program, which includes easy-to-follow health action plans, telephone support from registered nurses, access to health coaches and SMS or email reminders about screenings and GP appointments.

Tips for preventing kidney disease:
Dr Phoon shares seven simple ways Australians can minimise their risk of kidney disease.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight
  2. Eat a healthy diet
  3. Get regular exercise
  4. Drink enough water
  5. Don’t smoke
  6. Limit your alcohol consumption
  7. Maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar (glucose) levels

For further information, please see Dr Phoon’s kidney health blogpost.

Identifying kidney disease risk:

By answering a few simple questions, Kidney Health Australia’s online test identifies individual risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Speak to your doctor about a kidney health check::

If you know the risk factors and symptoms and think you might be at increased risk, chat to your doctor about getting checked. Early detection can significantly reduce kidney damage[vii].

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

HCF, leading not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, 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 invested more than $17 million to support health services research through 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


[i] Fast Facts, Kidney Health Australia, http://kidney.org.au/cms_uploads/docs/kidney-health-australia-kidney-fast-facts-fact-sheet.pdf

[ii] Australia & New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry Report http://www.anzdata.org.au/v1/annual_reports_download.html

[iii] All about Chronic Kidney Disease, Kidney Health Australia, http://kidney.org.au/cms_uploads/docs/all-about-chronic-kidney-disease-fact-sheet.pdf

[iv] Diabetes in Australia https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/diabetes-in-australia

[v]Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey first results: 2014-15, Hypertension and measured high blood pressure, March 2016. Accessed at: Australian Bureau of Statistics - http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2014-15~Main%20Features~Hypertension%20and%20measured%20high%20blood%20pressure~14

[vi] HCF, Kidney Disease https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/health-care/common-conditions/kidney-disease

[vii] HCF, Kidney Disease https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/health-care/common-conditions/kidney-disease