What is Access Gap Cover?
The Access Gap Cover scheme is designed to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses when you receive a service in a hospital.
Under the Access Gap Cover scheme, participating medical practitioners can decide to accept up to the Territory Health Fund fee as full settlement of the account. This means you don’t have to make any additional payments for that particular service.
The doctor can also accept the fee as part of the payment and will inform you of any gap – called the known gap. The known gap is the additional out-of-pocket expenses you will need to pay.
If your doctor doesn’t participate in access gap, we will only cover the 25% between the 75% Medicare Rebate and the Medicare Benefits Schedule fee for inpatient services.
What is an excess?
An excess is the amount you pay up front if you go to hospital or day surgery. The higher the excess, the less you pay for your regular premiums. The excess applies to all Members covered and is applied to the full cost of hospitalisation, including dependaent children (*excluding exempt children as provided below) in both public and private hospitals and day surgery facilities.
In addition to your agreed excess, you may have other out-of-pocket costs associated with your hospital treatment.
The calculation of the excess amount will apply to hospitalisations in the order they are processed by Territory Health Fund. If the excess contribution on your first visit is less than your chosen excess option, and you’re admitted to hospital again in the same Membership Year you will be required to pay the remainder of your excess obligation.
The most you’ll have to pay each Membership Year for your excess payment is outlined below.
|Excess level||Maximum excess per Membership Year|
Once the excess has been paid, the rest of the hospital accommodation charges will be sent to us, so you can enjoy the full benefits of your private hospital cover. Of course your medical costs will be determined by your doctors’ participation with our gap scheme. See Access Gap section for more information.
*Under our Top Hospital cover, we don’t charge any excess on children aged 12 years or under if they need to be admitted to hospital for medical treatment.
What is a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing ailment, illness or condition is one where signs or symptoms of the condition were present at any time during the six months prior to applying for membership of Territory Health Fund or an upgrade of your existing cover, determined by a Territory Health Fund appointed medical practitioner. You may have a pre-existing condition, ailment or illness without even being aware of it.
If we find that a pre-existing condition was present, you will need to serve a 12 month waiting period before claiming benefits for treatment. It isn’t necessary for the signs or symptoms to have been diagnosed by a doctor at the time of joining or upgrading your cover.
The 12 month waiting period for pre-existing ailments can be applied to all hospital (or hospital substitute) treatments for which we pay benefits. There are a couple of exceptions; a two month waiting period applies to the following services:
- Approved rehabilitation treatment
- Palliative care
A 12 month waiting period applies to obstetrics (pregnancy) related services. Surgery for assisted fertility programs such as IVF or GIFT, sterilisation or vasectomy, elective surgery and surgical extractions attract a 12 month waiting period.
The 12 month waiting period for the treatment of a pre-existing ailment can also apply to extras services.
What are out-of-pocket expenses for hospital treatment?
Out-of-pocket expenses are the additional costs once all Medicare and private health insurance benefits have been expended. Usually, out-of-pocket expenses apply when you’re not fully covered for a particular treatment or service, or when a set benefit limit applies. Discovering you’ll be out of pocket can be a tough pill to swallow, especially after being discharged from hospital, or once your treatment is complete.
It’s your right to know if there are any out-of-pocket expenses that you might incur as part of your treatment, to avoid any surprises later. Knowing the cost of your medical treatment upfront is called Informed Financial Consent, and the Government has introduced a checklist, providing you with the questions you need to ask before going into hospital.
We recommend contacting us before going into hospital so that we can discuss what your policy provides cover for, and if any out-of-pocket expenses will apply. We’ll also supply you with a copy of the checklist. By talking to us before going into hospital, you’ll have the total picture and can avoid any unwanted surprises later.
What is public hospital cover?
Public hospital cover is exactly what its name suggests - cover for treatment in a public hospital.
Public hospital is our most basic level of hospital cover for people who want to be treated as a private patient in a public hospital. Basically this lets you choose your own doctor (if they're willing and able to treat you in a public hospital). We'll pay for the cost of shared ward accommodation (up to the level prescribed by the Minister for Health), if you're admitted as a private patient.
If you choose to be admitted in a private room, you'll have to pay further out-of-pocket expenses. It doesn't help with avoiding waiting times in the public system, and if you go to a private hospital or day surgery you'd also have high out-of-pocket expenses.
Public Hospital cover is not available for purchase online.
What is hospital cover?
Hospital cover protects you and your family if you need to go to hospital, by covering most of the major expenses that come with hospital treatment.
Having hospital cover means you don't need to be concerned about public hospital waiting periods, as well as giving you access to your choice of hospital and your choice of doctor in most cases.
Do excesses apply to young children?
If you've got Top Hospital cover, we don't charge an excess for children up to and including the age of 12 if they need to go to hospital for treatment.
If you have Intermediate Hospital cover, excesses still apply to children.
What is an excluded benefit or service?
Our Intermediate Hospital cover has some services that are excluded.
If a service is marked as "excluded", it means you won't be covered in a public or private hospital and we won't pay any benefits on that service. If you think you'll need treatment for any excluded service, we recommend you upgrade to Top Hospital cover.
If you're upgrading, don't forget that you'll need to serve a 12 month waiting period on those excluded or restricted services before you can claim.
What is a restricted benefit or service?
Our Intermediate Hospital cover has some services that are restricted.
If a service is covered as a "restricted" benefit, it means you'll be covered with your choice of doctor for shared ward accommodation in a public hospital only. If you go into a private hospital for a restricted service, you'll likely end up with large out-of-pocket expenses.
Restricted benefits are amounts set by the Government, and generally aren't enough to cover the accommodation costs in a private hospital, and no benefits are paid towards the costs of theatre charges in private hospital.
Waiting periods may also apply to all restricted services.
If you think you'll need full cover for a restricted service, you should consider upgrading to Top Hosptial cover. If you're upgrading, don't forget that you'll need to serve a 12 month waiting period on those excluded or restricted services before you can claim.
What is the Medicare Benefits Schedule?
When you go to hospital, your doctor, surgeon and anaesthetist all charge for their services separately to your hospital accommodation costs. Their fees are known as medical expense. These medical expenses are assessed against hte Medicare Benefts Schedule (MBS) fees, which are set by the government. If you're admitted to hispital as a private patient, Medicare will pay 75% of the MBS fee for your medial expenses. We then pay the remaining 25% of the MBS fee.
However, some doctors charge more than the MBS fee, which can mean big out-of-pocket expenses for you. Our private hospital cover can help reduce or avoid these extra expenses through our Access Gap agreement.
What benefits do you pay for hearing aids?
Hearing aids are covered on our Top Hospital product. A benefit amount is provided to use over a period of three (3) Membership years based on the date on which the purchase of a hearing aid/s is made. The benefit limit is applied based on your length of membership with Territory Health Fund.
- Up to 10 years - $1,000
- 10-15 years - $1,500
- 15 years + - $2,000
Benefits per person are calculated at 85% of the cost of hearing aids up to the appropriate limit of benefits.
What is a waiting period?
Waiting periods are exactly what their name suggests; the length of time a policy holder needs to wait before being able to make claims on services.
They apply when you join any health fund for the very first time, or when you upgrade to a higher level of cover.
Waiting periods are designed to keep health cover fair for everyone, by protecting the fund and Members against people who join intentionally to make big claims, and then cancel their membership.
If you're transferring from another fund and take out an equivalent level of cover, or if you've previously been covered by your parents' membership, we recognise that you've already served the waiting periods, so you can claim straight away. If you upgrade to a higher level of cover when you switch, you'll only need to serve the waiting period on the increased benefits.
Our table below outlines the waiting periods that apply to hospital and extras:
^ Two month waiting periods apply for most other items or services. Cover for an accident is immediate provided it is not recoverable from another source such as Workers Compensation, third party or other liability provision. Sporting accidents sustained by sportspeople in activities relating to their fulltime employment as a sporting professional, including training and competition have a two month waiting period.
Can I upgrade my cover?
If you're on one of our lower or medium levels of cover, you can choose to upgrade at any time by contacting us on 1800 623 893.
Upgrading could include:
- Increasing the level of cover - for example, going from Intermediate to Top Hospital
- Adding a new cover - for example, adding extras cover
- Reducing your excess - that is, going from $500 excess to $250
If you're upgrading, you may need to serve waiting periods on the upgraded portion of your cover. While you're waiting, we'll still honour the benefits of your previous cover. Conditions also apply to hospitalisation if you're changing your excess.
Can I downgrade my cover?
If things are a bit tight financially, or if you want to change to a level of cover that's more practical, you can choose to downgrade your cover.
Downgrading may include:
- Reducing the level of cover - for example, going from Top Hospital to Intermediate Hospital cover
- Removing a current cover - for example, dropping extras cover
- Increasing your excess - going from a $250 to $500 excess
If you choose to downgrade, you won't need to serve additional waiting periods, and your new excess applies to inpatient hospital services immediately.