Health Check

Medibank programs for treating and managing osteoarthritis

One in 11 Australians lives with osteoarthritis, and that number is growing. That’s why Medibank is rolling out new, innovative ways to help eligible members through their osteoarthritis journey.

Written by Sophie Jackson

Every day, osteoarthritis stops Australians from doing the things they love. Whether that is chasing after the grandkids, getting out into nature or connecting with their friends and family.

Osteoarthritis is a condition where cartilage in the joint breaks down, resulting in bones rubbing together and causing pain, swelling and loss of motion. It can have a profound effect on your life.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, so treatment focuses on managing the symptoms. It usually consists of exercise, weight management, medication to relieve pain and inflammation, and at advanced stages, surgery.

In Australia, one in 11 Australians lives with the condition1, and that figure is rising.

Recognising the growing burden osteoarthritis is having on Australians’ health, Medibank is rolling out new and innovative ways to better support eligible members with chronic knee pain, including the launch of Better Knee, Better MeTM in early 2020.

Personalised support to improve quality of life

The 12-month Better Knee, Better MeTM program provides eligible members* with a personalised exercise, weight loss and pain management plan. And it’s supported by consultations with a physiotherapist and dietitian.

Medibank’s Head of Member Health Service Design, Dr Catherine Keating, said there was a misconception that pain and loss of mobility is unavoidable with osteoarthritis, and that surgery was the only option.

“We want our customers to feel hopeful that when treated early, osteoarthritis doesn’t have to mean sitting at home in pain, waiting for surgery. We’ve brought evidence-based strategies into one program to make it easy for customers and to help them get back to the things they love – whether that’s gardening or keeping up with the grandkids.”

Her comments were echoed in a recently released evaluation of the Better Knee, Better MeTM trial. It found that on average, participants had significant improvements in quality of life.

In fact, 70% of participants who were originally willing to have knee replacement surgery were unwilling after 12 months in the program.

The program is also delivered via phone and video call, meaning members from all over Australia can access the program.

“For our customers that live in regional and rural areas it can be difficult to access physiotherapists and dietitians. Better Knee, Better MeTM is also about breaking down barriers to ensure customers can access high quality healthcare wherever they are,” says Dr Keating.

More flexibility and choice after surgery

For those with end-stage osteoarthritis, who have exhausted lifestyle management options like the ones used in the Better Knee, Better MeTM program, surgery is sometimes the best option.

With surgery often comes the concerns of out-of-pocket costs and lengthy time spent away from home, in inpatient rehabilitation programs.

Medibank’s No Gap Joint Replacement Program allows eligible members to pay no out-of-pocket costs# on a wide range of services as part of hospital admission for elective surgery for a joint replacement^.

With the No Gap Joint Replacement Program, members may spend less time in hospital but that doesn’t mean they get less support.

For Caroline, who participated in Rehab At Home, that meant being able to spend Christmas at home after her hip replacement surgery.

“I felt safer at home, especially during COVID. And I preferred to be at home during Christmas since being with family is important. My sister stayed with me during Christmas eve and Christmas … I was able to walk around, cook amazing food and socialise,” she said.

"Completing this (rehab) in the comfort of my home is great because you’re not wasting time in the waiting area or having to travel to the hospital or clinic,” she said.

Caroline’s story shows how Medibank is about more than just insurance, said Dr Keating.

“These new and innovative programs really push the boundaries for Medibank,” she said. “From prevention through to surgery and recovery, we want better health for our members with osteoarthritis so they can keep doing the things they love.”

How Medibank can help with osteoarthritis

As a Medibank member you get more than just health insurance. We’re here to help you achieve better health, every step of the way.

Staying healthy

  • Live Better Rewards app. Eligible Medibank members with hospital or extras cover can now earn points towards rewards with the Live Better rewards app, simply for taking small steps towards a healthier life.+ Find out more

After diagnosis

  • Better Knee, Better Me. Medibank’s Better Knee, Better MeTM program supports eligible members~ with a personalised exercise, weight loss and pain management program, aimed at lowering the need for joint replacement surgery. Find out more  

Joint replacement surgery

  • No Gap Joint Replacement Program. To help eligible members reduce out-of-pocket costs for joint replacement surgery, Medibank has rolled out the No Gap Joint Replacement program at participating hospitals, with participating surgeons. Find out more

Recovering from surgery

  • Rehab at Home. Rehab at Home is giving members more choice and flexibility about where they receive treatment after joint replacement surgery.* Find out more
Senior couple

Is knee pain holding you back?

We’re delivering a program to help eligible Medibank members with painful knee osteoarthritis to reduce knee pain, improve their quality of life, and lower the chances of requiring joint replacement surgery. For more information about the Better Knee, Better MeTM program and to find out if you're eligible, click on the 'Find out more' button.

Things you should know

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Osteoarthritis, retrieved Mar 2022.

* For eligible hospital members who have served waiting periods. Treating doctor must consider it appropriate. Additional treatment may incur out of pocket costs. Not available in all areas.

# There may be out-of-pocket expenses associated with outpatient appointments, such as your initial visit with a participating surgeon in their consulting rooms. If a member has chosen an excess or per-day payment on their cover to lower their monthly premium, this will still be payable (for example, if you’re claiming for the first time that calendar year, you may need to pay an excess). 

Excludes joint replacements resulting from an emergency admission.

+ Must be 18 years or over and have a valid Australian residential address to register for Medibank Live Better. Must be a Medibank member with hospital cover, extras cover, or hospital and extras cover, be up-to-date with premium payments and have signed up to Medibank Live Better with ‘My Medibank’ or have linked their MyMedibank account with their Live Better account to redeem rewards. Excludes Overseas Visitor health cover, Working Visa health cover, Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), Ambulance only cover, ahm covers and other selected covers. Additional terms and conditions may apply to the redemption of a reward depending on the type of reward chosen. See full Medibank Live Better terms.

~ Must be a Medibank member with hospital cover that includes joint replacement surgery, aged between 45-80, experiencing chronic knee pain on most days for the past 3 months, are above a healthy weight (BMI>27) and can access a telephone and internet.

Written by Sophie Jackson

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