When a loyal customer informs you that they will be taking their business elsewhere for sake of better value for money, you would think that the appropriate response would be to do everything possible to convince you to stay.
When I walked into my local HBF branch on Friday to do just that, the member service advisor (who actually had a connection to diabetes) simply told me that she completely understood.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t feel a little stung by the health insurer that my family have been loyal to for as long as I can remember. I can remember impatiently waiting at the HBF branch at Karrinyup on many occasions as a kid when my parents had claims issues to deal with. When my Mum and Dad brought me to HBF after I first commenced full time work to take out a policy of my own, I did not even think about choosing anyone else to look after my health.
I genuinely liked that HBF were a West Australian business, with a family feel to it. There were plenty of local branches nearby where I could go and talk to an actual person, rather than deal with a matter over the phone with the call centre on the East Coast. We haven’t ever had a problem with them over the years.
However along with insulin pumps, HBF no longer covers dialysis, cochlear implants and surgical weight loss procedures on basic tier hospital policies. Meanwhile, I can receive claims or discounts for ‘wellness’ products and services which have no value to me on my health cover.
I find it ridiculous that I am forced to have my health insurance cover packaged with other products and services that I have no use for. Admittedly, my new health insurer is no different either. In an ideal world I would go into a branch, tell the insurer what I need coverage for, and have a package that is tailored to my own individual needs.
Over the four year lifespan of my insulin pump, my current premiums (inclusive of the 25% rebate contributed by the federal government) have covered roughly 60% of its cost. Not to mention that many people would not be upgrading their insulin pumps as soon as the four year warranty period is up. Moreso at the moment as we are waiting patiently for the new pump options to hit our shores (watch this space).
Of all people with diabetes, those with type 1 who are the predominant users of insulin pump therapy represent only 11%. Of those 11%, I believe that insulin pumpers would be in the minority. They weren’t encouraged or talked about by my own healthcare professionals. I only came to know more about them from talking to other people with diabetes – and that, in itself, was a massive step for me to make.
I have now broken up with HBF, a decision which will save me at least $550 per year. Diabetes is one awfully expensive condition that I did not ask to get, and I can think of hundreds of other things that I would much rather put that money towards each year.
But for now, I will happily divert that extra $550 per year toward things like insulin pump consumables, batteries, test strips, hypo treatments and insulin.
As Elaine would say, “you just lost a customer!”
(Clearly, you can tell that I’ve been binging on far too much Seinfeld at the moment…)
Sad truth is Frank, insurance is based on a lot of people paying premiums but not needing to claim. Insurance wouldn’t work if you only paid premiums for items that you knew you needed. Also insurers view people with diabetes as a really bad “risk” I do believe that your former fund would be quite happy that you took your business elsewhere, they want people who are totally healthy and not in need of medical services now.
It’s quite sad that this is happening across the Private Healthcare Industry. I recon that’s why we should call it an”industry”. I feel that the companies should be regulated about what they can and can’t do. Taking away an essential service because of increased cost & ‘not wanting’ these customers should be legally forbidden. It all about the $ and not the customer. That’s my opinion. Maybe the Diabetes community can take some initiative to talk to the Private Health Insurers that have chosen to abandon their customers for the sake of $$$?