If you have private health insurance, there are some simple ways of making sure you’re fully informed before your hospital visit.
In the time leading up-to your admission, it’s a good idea to prepare a list of questions for your doctors and health insurer, and find out about support services that can help make it a little bit easier.
Questions time: What to ask?
These questions should be top of your list when speaking with your doctor prior to your procedure. These will help you have the key information you need to make sure you’re as prepared as possible.
1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
Tests are an effective way to help you and your doctor or health care provider determine the problem. Equally, treatments and procedures may help to treat it. If you are unsure ask your doctor for greater details on why they feel this test or procedure is necessary for you. Find out how effective this procedure is, and how long the benefits usually last.
2. What are the risks?
Every surgery brings some risk of complications, so you need to understand how common they are. Ask your doctor if there will be any side effects to the treatment or if the test has a risk of providing you with results that aren’t accurate. Understanding whether this could lead to more testing, additional treatments or another procedure is important. Your GP may be able to discuss these with you, but the specialist will have the most information.
3. Are there simpler, safer options available?
Perhaps there are alternative options to the proposed treatment that might work. This could include making some lifestyle changes. Eating healthier foods or exercising more, can be safe and effective options.
4. What happens if I delay my treatment?
Ask if your condition may worsen — or improve — if you don’t do anything immediately.
5. How much will this cost?
Get a detailed breakdown of fees at the initial consultation with the specialist to avoid any unexpected out-of-pocket expenses. There can be a wide range between what specialists charge, but paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get better quality care. Ask about the fees that each health professional in the team will charge, such as the anaesthetist or an assistant surgeon. This is known as Informed Financial Consent.
You can also contact Medibank to discuss if you can be referred to a specialist that participates in schemes such as Medibank’s GapCover, which can help to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. GapCover may not cover all services, and specialists can choose whether to participate in GapCover for part, or all of your treatment, so check with your specialist to see if they will participate. And remember, there may be other charges aside from your specialist’s fees that can add to your total costs.*
6. What support services are available to me?
If you’re going in for a significant procedure, you may need a little bit of extra help before or after your admission. There are lots of services available, from emotional support and counselling services, to nurse helplines and home help. Ask your specialist doctor and GP what’s available for people like you.
If you’re an eligible Medibank member, you may also be able to access a range of services through Hospital Assist. Services include personalised phone support through Health Concierge#, and the 24/7 Medibank Nurse phone line+. For eligible members who’ve had a total or partial knee or hip replacement, you may also be able to access the Medibank at Home rehabilitation service^.