HCF patients to lose cover at major Melbourne hospitals

A breakdown of negotiations between health insurer HCF and the operator of several of Melbourne’s major private hospitals will see patients paying higher out-of-pocket expenses for treatment from February.

In an email to its 1.8 million members across Australia this week, HCF confirmed it had failed to reach an agreement with Healthscope, which runs Knox, John Fawkner, La Trobe and Ringwood private hospitals, as well as The Melbourne Clinic and The Geelong Clinic.

John Fawkner Private Hospital in Coburg, in Melbourne’s inner-north.

John Fawkner Private Hospital in Coburg, in Melbourne’s inner-north.Credit:Chris Hopkins

“Unfortunately, following lengthy negotiations, Healthscope has chosen to terminate the long-standing agreement with HCF,” the email read, informing members they would not be able to claim for treatment after January 31 or for pre-booked treatment after July 31.

The full list of health facilities run by Healthscope includes Dorset Rehabilitation Centre, Holmesglen Private Hospital, Melbourne Private Hospital, North Eastern Rehabilitation Centre, Northpark Private Hospital, Rehab at Home, The Victoria Clinic and The Victorian Rehabilitation Centre.

The move could hurt some of the record 84,000 Victorians waiting for elective surgery who have already booked a treatment at a Healthscope facility, and who may need to pay more than expected for pain-relieving surgery.


Healthscope, owned by Canadian equity firm Brookfield Asset Management, terminated its agreement with HCF earlier this month, ending a 20-year relationship. HCF processed about 76,000 claims for Healthscope services across Australia annually.

In August, the not-for-profit insurer signed a five-year deal with Ramsay Health Care, which operates some of Melbourne’s other large private hospitals, including Mitcham Private Hospital, Peninsula Private Hospital and Waverley Private Hospital.

“Unfortunately, Healthscope has put profits and recovery of lost margin due to COVID before patients and willingly acknowledge they will focus on servicing state public health waiting lists and self-insured over private health insurance members,” a HFC spokeswoman said.