"From my perspective, Police Health has always been a part of our family, from when I joined the job in the early 1970s."
- Retired Police Officer, Kym Zander
"Luckily, during our early years we didn’t have a lot of claims to make, just little claims on Extras benefits, births of the kids and stuff like that. It wasn’t until my wife Chris retired from nursing in the early 2000s that the years of wear-and-tear caused her to need a major back operation. That was our first experience. Since then she’s had two hip replacements and a knee replacement.
The beauty, I found, about our private health is that while other people were going on about how much it costs, that they couldn’t get the specialist they needed, they couldn’t get the medical support, they couldn’t go to the hospital they wanted, and they had long waiting times... Well, we went straight to a specialist. We were seen and guided through the process when it mattered, when we needed to make decisions about Chris going through with the operations.
The big claim, and I think this is where we realised how Police Health is such a benefit to us, was in January 2019 for the second hip replacement. The journey started out the same way as the first hip replacement. Technology is great, though, so this time, they were making a custom hip joint for Chris which would be designed to fit her actual hip and minimise the effect of what could happen. We thought that was great! Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this was the start of our horrifying journey.
The operation itself went really well and on discharge we said ‘Is there any gap or any fee?’ and the girl in accounts said ‘No, you’re with Police Health, you’re in a good health fund - you have no gaps or fees to pay’, and we walked out and said ‘Gee, that’s a really good feeling!
Anyway, we were having a wonderful time until about 13-14 days post-op when my wife woke up in the early hours of the morning with extreme pain in her hip. Rather than going to A&E and sitting there for the next 10-12 hours we rang up our specialist and he said come straight into the hospital.
There were no external indications of infection, but blood tests showed Chris was in a very advanced stage of sepsis and was immediately admitted to the ICU. The news we were given was that if we hadn’t walked into hospital that day, Chris would have been dead because the sepsis was so far advanced.
It was a lengthy process of trial and error to kill the infection, with Chris in and out of theatre and ICU. She had the normal specialist who did the hip operation, another specialist who was like the advanced physician type of thing, and another, I called him a ‘germologist’ as a joke, but I think he was a microbiologist, because they were trying to work out what the bug was.
Finally, doctors suggested a temporary hip made out of a compound of very high strong antibiotics to target and kill the germ. This would be a non-weight bearing, restrictive movement hip. We discussed our options and decided to go ahead.
We were going okay until she got out of bed one day and slipped, they took an x-ray and found that the temporary hip had bent and twisted. The specialist offered two options: continue the current treatment or move to a rehab centre. We sat on it for about a week or two, and she was having blood tests and all these other tests, and you can’t help thinking, you know, what’s the cost of all this?
Everybody kept on saying it’s about quality of life, it’s about getting on top of your medical condition. Don’t worry about all the cost and everything else. But every night I’d go home and wonder. Finally, doctors decided Chris’s body was strong enough for a permanent hip joint to be inserted.
So, it was back into theatre, back into ICU for three or four days, back into a ward and because of her journey the recovery was a bit longer, so we had a longer stay in hospital. I think all up it was January, February, March and towards April, and one of the things that was on our mind as we walked out was ‘What’s this going to cost?’. Well, the girl in accounts said ‘There’ll be no charge’.
We looked at it; we had one of the highest recommended physicians, we had one of the best experts at the hospital, we had this microbiologist who was doing the germ analysis and everything else, yet we paid nothing.
So once things settled down, out of interest I thought I’d go into Police Health and look at the claims and the costs. We got into six figures.
Kym and his wife Chris have claimed over $335,000 in benefits from their Police Health cover since 1996.
You go home and you worry about your wife; you worry about what’s going on, you’re worried about the medical support. But with Police Health we weren’t a number on the wall. It made that horror journey a little bit more acceptable.
We noticed over the years that every time there was an increase in fees people would comment ‘Oh it’s going up $2 or $3’. I would always reflect on the increase, but I’d also go out and have a look at what other health funds offered and you’d come back and you’d say ‘Hang on, this increase is only a coffee, you’re only going to have to give up a coffee, give up a beer. But what do you give up if you actually walk away from what I call ‘the family organisation’?
“It is so relieving to say that your health fund, Police Health, is there alongside you. It’s like your health fund is family so you don’t want to give it up.”
When you’re not in those crisis type aspects of medical care, Police Health is also a good maintenance scheduler, because maintenance of your body is important. Use the Extras benefits. We have regular podiatrist visits and we have our teeth check-up at the dentist twice a year, and the girl there always says exactly the same thing - ‘You are in Police Health, you are supported far greater than anything else’.
It’s about health, wellbeing and finding that you’ve got peace of mind that if things do come up, you don’t need to go to a public hospital and wait for the next one, two or three years to have something done. I can make the decision to have something done, and in most cases, I’ll be supported and reimbursed financially to a great extent.
"I think if you tell your story people then reflect and go ‘Gee, I never thought about that, I never thought I’d be in that position.’ Well, Chris and I never thought we’d ever walk down that pathway either."