Media releases

June 25, 2001

Medibank Private launches gap campaign

Following hot on the heels of the Federal Government’s "Closing the Gap" campaign, Australia’s largest private health fund, Medibank Private, launched its own GapCover campaign yesterday.

Set to run for eight weeks, the campaign will comprise television and newspaper advertising, point of sale material, a member guide to medical gaps and letters to members, practice administrators, general practitioners and specialists.

The campaign will also be supported by the fund’s website and call and retail centres.

The medical gap is the difference between the fee patients are charged by their specialists for in-hospital and day surgery medical procedures and the total benefits they receive from Medicare and their private health fund.

These fees are separate from accommodation, other service fees and any excess or co-payment the member has agreed to pay as part of their health insurance cover.

The specialists are those involved in in-hospital or day-surgery procedures - the lion’s share being surgeons, assisting surgeons and anaesthetists.

Under Medibank Private’s GapCover schemes – the first of which was introduced in November 1999 followed by a second last September – doctors conducting in-hospital procedures can choose to charge either a no or known gap and can do so from procedure to procedure.

Commenting on the latest GapCover campaign, Medibank Private managing director, Mark Burrowes, says while the issue of medical gaps is not new to members, the latest gap campaign serves to reinforce and improve on the information they already have.

"The campaign sets out to both empower and inform members about how they can play a key role in reducing and eliminating their medical gaps.

"In our easy-to-read GapCover guide, we advocate that members check with their GPs that the specialist they’re being referred to uses the Medibank Private GapCover billing arrangements for an episode of treatment.

"We also urge them to confirm with their chosen GapCover specialist if they can expect a no or known gap and if the other specialists involved in their procedure also charge under the fund’s gap arrangements.

"Members are advised to check how they will be billed and if there are to be out-of-pocket expenses and ensure that they are provided with an estimate."

The GapCover campaign is also designed to further inform doctors about medical gaps and relieve them of the burden of having to educate patients by referring them to the Medibank Private Gap Hotline.

Beginning on Sunday, 24 June, the television advertising will run on and off over eight weeks in which 15 and 30 second advertisements will alternate. Both highlight the fact that over 300,000 Medibank Private members have enjoyed no gaps under Medibank Private’s GapCover or other gap arrangements.

Also key to the fund’s gap campaign, has been the move by Medibank Private to list on its website the names of the doctors who have charged under its GapCover arrangements. These lists are also available from retail centres.

Although over 3,500 gap doctors are listed on the Medibank Private website, this does not include the full gamut of doctors who have charged under the fund’s GapCover arrangements. This figure currently stands at 4,428 nationally.

Currently close on 70 per cent of in-hospital services do not incur a gap.

Those seeking further gap information can ring the Medibank Private Gap Hotline on 1800 030 055.

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