August 2020

Dear member,

The Coronavirus pandemic has provided us all with a great deal of uncertainty.

It has tested our resilience with many of us living in isolation, experiencing financial pressures or changes to our personal circumstances.

As we continue to navigate through these challenging times, Astute Simplicity Health remains committed to supporting its members.

Whilst there have been some delays in accessing non-essential services during the pandemic, the private health industry has worked closely with government to ensure there have been minimal disruption for those who require access to urgent care in a timely manner.

It demonstrates how fortunate we are to live in a country where we can access health services even in the direst of times and the need for a balanced healthcare system that enables the community to leverage off the capabilities of the private health sector when a challenge like this arises. This enables the private sector to free up beds, resources and physicians to help the broader public good.


Financial support measures

When the first wave of COVID-19 hit in March, Astute Simplicity Health made the decision to postpone its April 1, 2020 premium increase for up to six months until October 1, 2020, providing financial relief to members. This premium relief period will shortly end.

In addition, we extended the fund’s existing hardship provisions to enable members affected by COVID-19 to suspend their policy for a two-month period, with the option of extending up to a maximum six-month period if financial hardship continued.

For our Victorian members who are amid a second wave of the virus, we are continuing to support you with a further policy hardship extension when you contact our Customer
Care Centre on 1300 090 960 or email astute@stlukes.com.au to discuss your personal circumstances.


Impacts of COVID-19

Astute Simplicity Health has closely monitored access to health services during this period and has worked with industry to ensure services returned to normal levels as soon as practicable.

We understand that as a member of Astute Simplicity Health, you have an expectation to access the treatment you require at a time that suits you.Analysis of our data showed a downturn of services for both Hospital and Extras during the peak six-week COVID-19 period in April and May. This aligned with the restrictions put in place for non-urgent elective surgery and treatment services at that point in time.

We also learnt through member surveys about some of your concerns, including feeling reluctant to expose yourself to the potential risk of the virus by visiting your provider, which was also a factor in the downturn of access to services.

We are now seeing utilisation of some services at even higher levels than we would normally expect for this time of year.


How Astute Simplicity Health has assisted members

Throughout the first wave of COVID-19, Astute Simplicity Health identified the need to support its members’ health and well-being in a different manner than it had previously.

Because of this, we introduced a range of measures, including:

  • Benefits for a range of telehealth services, including clinical psychology, counselling, physiotherapy, osteopathy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, diabetes education and eye therapy, where clinically appropriate. This was to ensure our members were provided with an alternate care model when unable to meet face-to-face with their treatment provider or if the member preferred to receive services remotely during this time.
  • Our out-of-hospital care program reached out to vulnerable members to ensure they were supported and continued to access appropriate levels of care and advice.
  • Mental health support services, including the introduction of counselling benefits from April 1, 2020.
  • Introduction of the online Nourish Baby program from April 1, 2020 to assist our pregnant members navigate impending parenthood when they were unable to access other face-to-face services.
  • Delayed our April 1, 2020 premium increase for six months until October 1, 2020.
  • Communication with members about the hardship provisions available to them. We will continue to support members impacted by COVID-19.


Our promise to you

This is an extraordinary time and we are focused on ensuring we meet the ongoing needs of our members as the situation continues to evolve.

The disruption to health services to date was not as extensive as we initially envisaged.Through prudent financial management and a strong financial position, we are well placed to absorb this cost and can continue to meet the needs of our members now and into the future.

Astute Simplicity Health board and management are committed to ensuring our members are not disadvantaged during this time. That is why we have put mechanisms in place to closely monitor the impacts on elective surgery and the speed at which providers catch up with any delayed services before resuming to normal levels.

Once we have a clear understanding of the financial impact of COVID-19, we are committed to return any financial gains from this unprecedented event back to members in the most beneficial manner.

We thank you for being a member of Astute Simplicity Health and we look forward to continuing with you on your health journey.

Yours Sincerely,

Darren Harris
Chief Operating Officer

 

 

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