Treatment at home: What you need to know about your options
We’re giving you options around the types of treatment you can have at home to help you stay in control of your health journey. At-home treatment could see you leave hospital sooner after a procedure, or in the uncertain times of COVID-19, could even see you skip hospital altogether.
With the rapid pace of change in the healthcare system as we deal with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to stay up to date on what’s happening with private hospital cover, but we have an overview to help here.
Luckily, HCF already has treatment at-home options in place to give you more choice in how and where you’re treated. We understand you might be a bit reluctant to leave home or spend a lot of time in hospital right now, but still need access to medical care. This is where our treatment at-home options can help you get the care you need so you can leave hospital sooner and continue your treatment from home, or in some cases, help you avoid hospital altogether. Your hospital cover doesn’t include treatment at home, but we’ve chosen to pay for some treatments available from our contracted providers (called hospital-substitute treatment) anyway, because we know you might prefer to be treated at home if it’s possible. We only cover treatments when we can make sure they’ll be provided safely and at the same, or better, quality than in hospital.
These at-home treatments include:
- intravenous antibiotics for people with infections
- complex care at home for post-surgical wounds or wounds that have broken down
- IV chemotherapy
- rehabilitation after hip or knee replacements.
HCF members who had joint replacement surgery before the lockdown can access rehabilitation at home as part of their hospital substitute program at no cost. While hip and knee surgery had been suspended and might take a while to be rescheduled – at-home treatment options and support are also available to members whose surgery is postponed and slated to go ahead at a later time.
Benefits of home care
Our treatment at home program was a godsend for Matthew Grootenboer, a cancer patient from rural Callala Bay, NSW, who was one of the first people to access the chemo@home care in NSW.
A fireman married with four children, he discovered in June 2019 that he had testicular cancer. “All sorts of things start running through your head, like am I going to live, am I going to die?” says Matthew.
After surgery, Matthew was relieved to discover he could have follow-up treatment in the comfort of his own home. “This was one less stress that I didn’t have to worry about – in fact more than one, quite a few less stresses that I didn’t have to worry about.”
With this flexibility, his wife Nadine was able to pick up the kids from school, rather than take Matthew on the long drive to hospital and back, and look after their son Charlie who has special needs. “And in my own home, with my own fridge and my own toilet, it was extremely comfortable for me. Then the nurse takes everything away, and you’re all done,” Matthew recalls.
Everything was arranged, including the nurse appointment and a Skype interview with the oncologist, still giving him face-to-face contact with his doctor.
Matthew says he didn’t realise the reassurance private health insurance can give until his doctor asked if he had cover.
“For me, it’s massive peace of mind, and one less thing to worry about when you’re going through cancer. You can concentrate on your family, and recovery – the things that matter,” he says.
As well as these at-home comforts and practical bonuses, a review of studies in the Medical Journal of Australia found that hospital services delivered at home can improve patient outcomes, boost patient and carer satisfaction, and lower hospital readmission rates.
Some of the health benefits of treatment at home may also include better sleep and less risk of exposure to infections – especially critical during the coronavirus pandemic.
How do you access treatment at home?
Matthew didn’t know at home treatment was an option. “We didn’t realise it until later on that chemo@home is provided by HCF,” he says. “HCF had done all the work beforehand to make it available for us.”
Most times a treating doctor approaches HCF or one of our providers to see if you’re eligible, so if you think treatment at home is for you, chat to your doctor about it. If they agree you're safe to get treatment at home, they can contact a provider (depending on availability in the area where you live).
So far, we’ve partnered with at-home providers in every state except Tasmania and offer multiple providers to give you flexibility of choice. Hospitals have a list of our providers so they can refer people for treatments that are covered by HCF in your home.
There are several home-care health services to choose from, depending on how much support you need and where you live. Our providers deliver treatment at home with no out-of-pocket costs to you. That’s care when it counts.
Online services on offer
Looking after your health at home is especially important during this time, so even if you haven’t been to hospital or need follow-up treatment, you can still use your extras cover towards various health services over the phone and through video chat, including:
- Pregnancy care
Being pregnant at this time can be isolating for mums-to-be. If your birth classes have been cancelled, you can access childbirth and antenatal classes run by midwives using fun and engaging videos online. Birth Beat is a Catalyst program designed to be a one-stop-shop to prepare parents for birth and babies. It also offers online first-aid courses.
- A GP at your fingertips
We’ve partnered with GP2U, a doctor via online video who can answer your general health questions, as well as issue prescriptions, sick notes, specialist referrals and mental health care plans. GP2U appointments have always been discounted for HCF members but during COVID-19 are bulk-billed for members through Medicare.
- Mental health and wellbeing support
Looking after your mental health is even more important at the moment and you can access our mental health and wellbeing support program which is made up of a range of mental wellbeing options that work, with the freedom to choose which is right for you. All of the tools and resources are online so you can access them when and where is best for you.
Your health is our number one priority and we’re committed to providing the best health services and treatments to protect you and your loved ones. Contact us on 13 13 34 to find out if you’re eligible for treatment at home and our online services, or to chat with our dedicated COVID-19 Hardship Team if you’re struggling to pay your premiums.
Words by Natalie Parletta
First published May 2020
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