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NIB-insured patients who book procedures or treatments at St Vincent’s private hopsitals after October 3 face paying hundreds, if not thousands, more (Bigstock)

Thousands of patients face massive rises in out-of-pocket costs at St Vincent’s private hospitals after funding negotiations with major health insurer NIB collapsed amid a deepening crisis in the $22 billion private hospital industry. Source: The Age. 

St Vincent’s Health Australia – the country’s largest not-for-profit healthcare provider – yesterday gave notice that it would terminate its contract with NIB within 65 business days.

St Vincent’s chief executive, Chris Blake, said NIB had refused to make a fair offer that recognised the rising costs of providing hospital care, leaving St Vincent’s no choice but to end the agreement, which would affect thousands of patients.

“This is not a decision we take lightly. This is the first time in our 176-year history that St Vincent’s has given notice to a private health fund that we intend to end our agreement. It’s an indication of how seriously we treat this matter,” he said.

NIB chief executive and managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said in a statement that the insurer was “sympathetic to St Vincent’s financial position” and had made a “very fair and reasonable offer”.

“It’s disappointing they have elected to argue their position publicly. But we will continue discussions with them, noting our partnership has several months remaining.”

Failure to reach an agreement means NIB-insured patients who book procedures or treatments after October 3 face paying hundreds if not thousands more, including chemotherapy and cancer surgery.

The extra out-of-pocket costs could run well into the thousands for a multiple-night hospital stay at one of St Vincent’s 10 hospitals.

In June, Federal Health Minister Mark Butler launched a rapid review into the private hospital sector amid skyrocketing costs and intense financial pressure threatening its viability. The Department of Health expects to report back at the end of August.


Thousands of patients face massive cost hikes as hospitals pull plug on NIB (By Kate Aubusson, The Age)