7,900 days of hospital support for urgent mental health admissions
In the first three months of the new mental health upgrade reform, 348 Medibank customers have been able to access urgent mental health care.
Under the change introduced by the Federal Government on 1 April 2018, 348 people have been admitted to hospital with acute mental health needs after using the waiver to upgrade their Medibank cover.
CEO Craig Drummond said the waiver has enabled Medibank to provide quick access to care, with a median of four days between customers using the waiver and their hospital admission.
“This means Medibank was able to cover more than 7,900 days of hospital support for our customers needing this care,” Mr Drummond said.
“We know this support was important because the total average length of stay in hospital for these customers was 22 days. Prior to the government reforms, patients would have had to wait for this care, which may have exacerbated their mental health issues and impacted their quality of life, or they may have been exposed to significant out-of-pocket costs.”
“This change has particularly assisted younger customers, who often have cover with limited mental health benefits.”
The most common claim was from female customers aged between 20-49 years old, living in a metro region, but 30 per cent of those accessing the waiver were from rural or regional Australia.
An additional 284 customers also applied for the waiver but may not have claimed yet, demonstrating these customers wanted to be prepared for a potential admission.
“In the first quarter since this change, we were able to provide $5.5 million worth of care for the customers that were subsequently admitted to hospital,” Mr Drummond said.
“Supporting better mental health is a priority for Medibank and ahm, and this hospital care is in addition to our removal of the two month waiting period on psychology services on current extras products.”
In addition, Medibank recently committed $1 million to establish the Medibank Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund, and is continuing its long association with beyondblue, including a three-year $300,000 partnership to assist with the development of its ‘BeyondNow’ app – a tool for helping health professionals reduce the risk of suicide in their patients.
In line with the regulatory changes on 1 April, customers on basic or medium level hospital products - who have served their waiting period for limited mental health cover - are able to upgrade their policy and access higher benefits for included in-hospital mental health services, without serving the standard two month waiting period. Patients will only be able use this exemption from the existing two month waiting period once in their lifetime.
Mental health is a significant public health issue, with economic and social consequence for all Australians. One in five Australians experience a mental health condition in a given year, and almost one in two will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime.