FAMILIES are being forced to sell their homes or raid their superannuation to pay medical bills, with some going bankrupt as Medicare rebates fail to keep pace with inflation and health funds fail to cover all medical charges.
The financial nightmare has exposed the growing inadequacy of Medicare and health fund rebates and the crippling health costs to those with multiple or serious illnesses.
Are you unable to afford treatment? Tell us your story in the comments below
Battling breast cancer, chemotherapy and a life-threatening infection, Leonie Havnen’s biggest challenge was not her health but the $31,300 in medical bills not covered by Medicare.
This year the 52-year-old Sydney mother of two was forced to raid her superannuation nest egg to cover her treatment costs.
“As a taxpayer for the past 36 years who pays around $30,000.00 a year in tax, $2,500 health insurance and the Medicare levy, to have to pay out of pocket for life saving medical treatment, just screams to me the ‘the system is broken’,” she said.
Cancer sufferers can ill afford huge bills.
“Why did I have to access my superannuation to pay for my life saving medical treatment we aren’t a third world country.”
Since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago Ms Havnen has had surgery six times, first to remove both breasts and then to deal with the consequences of a golden staph infection. She spent time in hospital when one of her kidneys collapsed. A statement from her health fund for the 2011-2012 financial year shows her private hospital treatment cost $77,732 and she received rebates of just $59,400 from Medicare and her health fund leaving her $18,331 out of pocket.
On top of these hospital expenses, Ms Havnen had another $12,000 in bills for specialist appointments, scans, health fund excess payment, and medication.
Her health fund reviewed her case after being contacted by The Sunday Telegraph and have since refunded her a further $6000.