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Pulse Newsletter

Pulse Newsletter

December 2021

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

We know 2021 hasn’t been an easy year for many Australians, whether directly affected by lockdowns or indirectly affected with restricted travel and not many opportunities to catch up with family and friends, both interstate and overseas.

But we hope this festive season all our members can take a well-earned break and relax with loved ones.

Review your cover

We know that it’s easy to ‘set and forget’ your health insurance. But there are advantages to regularly reviewing your cover. You may need to upgrade during different life stages. Or you may be able to downgrade and pay less than what you’re currently paying and still have the cover you need. And if you are thinking of getting a quote from another fund, get a quote from us first. We have many years of industry knowledge and expertise to draw on to be able to assist you. We also may be able to adjust your cover to better suit your needs. Here’s a short video that demonstrates different levels of cover at different life stages.

Meet our members

Meet Gerry and Audrey Doran, long-time rt health members who met and fell in love working 'on the buses' in Sydney many years ago. We spoke to them for an article in the latest Be Well magazine. You can click on this link and see them talking to us about their lives and their membership with rt health.

New phone system teething problems

On 15 December, rt health implemented a new computer-based phone system. As with any major changes to do with technology, there have been a few glitches that we’re working hard to iron out. Please accept our sincerest apologies if you have been affected. Please bear with us, and we will have it working at optimum level as soon as possible. Alternatively, if you have any troubles getting through you can email us at help@rthealthfund.com.au

HICAPS hiccups

Also some people have been affected by time-outs when trying to claim Extras treatments via HICAPS. We are not sure as to why the timeouts are happening but the problem is being addressed by our team. If you are at a provider and having issues, try asking them to refresh the HICAPS device, and see if this works. Otherwise give us a call on: 1300 886 123 to see if we can assist. Failing these options, you will need to pay the gap yourself and then claim for the out of pocket amount through rt health manually.

Pocket calendars for 2022

Due to the unexpectedly long temporary closure of our Sydney branch, due to Covid-19 in March 2020, we know many of our members are missing being able to ask for an rt health pocket calendar. If you would like a new pocket calendar for 2022, just email us at help@rthealthfund.com.au and let us know your name, member number and correct postal address.

November 2021

No premium increase in April 2022

We are delighted to let you know that there will be a freeze on premium increases in April 2022, which is due to savings made from a lower volume in claims than expected after the end of lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and other parts of the country. These savings are being returned to members via no annual premium increase until at least November 2022.

The freezing of premiums at current rates is the most cost-effective way of returning funds to members. rt health’s aim is to make the process as simple as possible so that every dollar of savings is returned to members and not to a costly return process. This action is in line with rt health’s commitment to keeping health cover affordable and available to as many members as possible.

rt health history video

We wanted to share this video with you about the long and proud history of rt health. With historical photos to illustrate, it touches on the health of the first colony of NSW, how railway workers in Sydney started the Railway & Transport hospital fund in 1889, effects of the Spanish Flu, two world wars, booming membership in the 1940s and 50s, impacts of government changes to healthcare legislation, right through to our merger on 1 November 2021 with HCF, Australia’s largest mutual, not-for-profit health fund. We hope you enjoy watching it.

New name for Access Gap Cover scheme

Now that rt health has merged with HCF, the Access Gap Scheme that rt health had with the AHSA (Australian Health Service Alliance) was replaced by the rt health Medicover Scheme. This came into effect on 14 November 2021. The only change for our members is the scheme has a new name and is now administered by HCF, not the AHSA.

More on the merger

As we let you know earlier this month, our merger with HCF was implemented on 1 November 2021, when rt health officially became a division of the Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Ltd. Your premiums, cover and benefits remain the same, and as mentioned above, there will be no annual increase to premiums in April 2022.

You will continue to receive the same dedicated and personalised service from the team at rt health that you are used to and claim in the same way.

rt health will remain an independent brand under the HCF umbrella, but the merger will provide some great new benefits to rt health members, including:

  • 2 months’ free health insurance over the first 2 years (1 month after 12 months & 1 month after 24 months).
  • Access to HCF dental and eyecare clinics with welcome offers, some standard no-gap dental treatments and discounts on other treatments. This is expected to be implemented in February 2022, but we will confirm closer to the time.
  • Hospital support including a Second Opinion Service, Nurse Helpline and hospital substitution services for at-home treatments. 
  • An extensive suite of health and wellbeing programs.
  • HCF’s Loyalty Program, HCF Thank You, including discounted e-gift cards and vouchers across a range of categories and retail partners. 
  • Over time you will receive discounts on travel and pet insurance. This may take up to 12 months for the merger date to become available to rt health members.
  • Welcome offers on Life Products.  

We're here for you – give us a call

Don’t forget you can call us any time between 8:30am and 5:00pm Monday to Friday (Australian Eastern Daylight Time) on 1300 886 123 and speak to one of our member service specialists.

October 2021

Annual Report now available

The rt health 2021 Annual Report is now available and can be viewed by logging in to Online Member Services, which you can do by clicking here.

We also recently advised you that rt health and the Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia (HCF) have agreed to merge subject to completing a number of conditional requirements, including obtaining approval from our regulator, the Australia Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). These conditional matters are well progressed and we expect to complete the merger shortly.

On completion date, the rt health and HCF health benefits funds will combine and rt health policies will become referable to HCF’s health benefits fund. For you, as an rt member, it will feel very much like business as usual with policies, contributions, benefits and the rt brand all remaining unchanged.

The Board entered into this merger on the basis that it was in the best interests of the members as a whole, and as a result there will be significant immediate and longer-term benefits to rt members. The Directors’ Report provides more detail on the merger and its benefits to members, as does our website at https://rthealthfund.com.au/our-future

As we present this report on the financial year 2021, we reflect on a year that has been characterised by the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the continuing sustainability pressures facing the private health insurance industry. Despite these challenges, rt Group achieved a post-tax surplus of $2.36 million. Although the fund remains adequately capitalised, its long-term strength will be greatly improved following the merger, providing the fund with the financial capacity to address the longer-term challenges. The Directors’ Report and Financial Statements provide more detail on the activities of the group during the year. Last year we advised members of a range of COVID-19 support programs and these have been maintained throughout the current lockdown period, albeit members have only needed to access them on a very limited basis.

As we enter the final stages in the completion of the merger, we would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the rt staff, Board and the advisors who have achieved the difficult task of completing the merger while continuing to operate a sound and highly member focused private health insurance business.

In our final address to you, our members, we thank you for the privilege of being able to serve you and share with you our confidence that we are passing you into excellent hands with HCF, where the best of your experience with rt health will not only be retained but will flourish.

Be well

Use your Extras while there's still time in 2021

We know it might have been tough for people in lockdown to make the most of their Extras, but there’s still time to get treatments and services before the new year when Extras amounts reset.

Maybe you could really use a massage or two, a trip to the dentist or new glasses or contact lenses?

And although it was possible to use Telehealth for some Extras during lockdown such as seeing a psychologist or dietician, perhaps you prefer the personal touch that face-to-face appointments provide.

For dental, rt health has an arrangement with 60 clinics in the National Dental Care network, where you can receive no-gap* check-up and clean, fluoride treatment and X-rays, plus discounts on other common dental procedures. Find your nearest location here.

For optical, rt has relationships with several providers, including OPSM, Spec Savers, Q Optical Network, Nova Optical in Charlestown NSW, and clearly.com.au where you can receive discounts on frames.* Find these on our website here.

*Yearly limits apply

Member advisory groups

We regularly conduct Member Advisory Groups research, which is when we recruit a group of rt health members, made up of long-term members (20+ years), mid-term or returned members and newer members (three years and under) and ask them about the key issues affecting them as members of the fund.

The most recent group – which was the third group for the year – was focused on the response of members towards the announcement of the merger. The majority of participants in the most recent group viewed the merger news as positive and a win-win scenario: better benefits for the same price with the same service. These members were keen on receiving access to HCF dental and eye clinics and believed potential cost savings of being part of a much bigger fund will be considerable moving forward.

The majority of members in this group were extremely happy with the choice of HCF as merger partner, as both rt and HCF are mutual, not-for-profit funds, and we will retain this identity.

Inside Central Station

And don’t forget to check out the great SBS documentary series, Inside Central Station. It is continuing Sunday nights at 7:30pm but you can catch up on any episodes you missed on SBS On Demand. The series looks at not just Sydney’s Central Station, but the rail network throughout NSW and issues it deals with on a day-to-day basis.

Download our app

Also, we just wanted to remind you to download the rt health mobile app so you can make a claim on the go. You can download the mobile app from the Apple store for iOS mobile devices and the Google Play Store for Android mobile devices.

September 2021

Merger of rt health with HCF

You will have recently received communications from us about the merger with HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit, mutual health fund. The merger application is now with APRA for approval and we hope to finalise the merger in November, 2021. There are some excellent benefits for rt health members due to the merger, including two months of free health insurance during the first two years of the partnership.

It’s important you know that very little will change in the way you interact with rt health. Your products, benefits and services all remain the same, as do the people serving you. It’s business as usual at rt health, with a few additional benefits coming your way. 

We wanted to do more for our wonderfully loyal members, and with this merger, we will be able to. As well as the two months’ free health insurance, the benefits will include access to HCF dental and eye clinics, sustained lower premium increases and better health programs and facilities. You will also receive access to discounts on e-gift cards and vouchers through a loyalty program. We will let you know as soon as these benefits become available. You can watch a video here of our CEO, Simone Tregeagle, talking about the merger.

SBS Inside Central Station

SBS has produced an excellent, 10-episode series, documenting what goes on behind the scenes at Sydney’s Central Station, and throughout the Sydney Trains network. Airing Sunday nights at 7:30pm, if you’ve missed the first couple of episodes, they are available via SBS On Demand.

The first episode in the documentary features the story behind the upgrade of the train line across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, starting on New Year’s Eve 2020. The existing wooden sleepers had lasted 88 years and were finally starting to deteriorate. They were to be replaced with concrete sleepers. But on this fateful New Year’s Eve a lightning strike took out one of the signal boxes on the Bridge. Workers were further hampered by rain, which was forecast to last a record-breaking eight days.

Narrated by Shane Jacobson, some of the stats of replacing the train line across the Harbour Bridge are quite staggering. The repair was 10 years in the planning with just 10 days to implement. It cost $80 million to repair the track, with 9,000 bolts to be removed along with the old sleepers to repair the steel underneath. Nine-thousand new holes had to be drilled and 9,000 new bolts to be put in.

This is a fascinating, top-drawer documentary. rt health is a proud sponsor of Inside Central Station, which features some of our members.

Please let us know if you participated in the SBS show by emailing: marketing@rthealthfund.com.au

Mullets for Mental Health

September is the Month of the Mullet. Mullets for Mental Health, that is. The Black Dog Institute has organised this great initiative to raise money for mental health research.

With suicide being the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15-44, and 50 per cent of people with symptoms of mental health illness not seeking help, it’s a subject that should be on everyone’s radar.

The Black Dog Institute conducts research to better understand why some people at risk of suicide don’t seek help; and to uncover better ways of reaching and assisting them.

And now with many companies and organisations taking part in R U OK?Day activities each year, mental health issues are moving into the mainstream. Asking someone if they are okay and having a conversation with them can change a life.  

If you want to find out more about Mullets for Mental Health you can on the Black Dog website.

COVID-19 vaccine rollouts & lifting of restrictions

All people aged 12 and over in Australia are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. People aged over 60 are now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine as well as the AstraZeneca vaccine. Health authorities advise that for those who have had one AstraZeneca shot, they should also get the same vaccine for their second shot.

In NSW, the current information is that stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the first Monday after the state passes the 70 per cent double vaccination target.

The lifting of restrictions once the states have reached 70% or 80% fully vaccinated are still fluctuating and vary by state, so it is best to get the latest information from your state or territory’s government health site.

And don’t forget if you have any side effects to any COVID vaccines you are covered via your rt health Hospital policy.

You can use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker to find your nearest vaccination centre and book an appointment.

Please update your banking details

To get your claims paid as soon as possible please let us know your banking details. That way we can instantly credit your account when the claim has been processed, rather than sending you a cheque, which is a much slower way of getting reimbursed.

To provide or update your banking details, you can do it on our website in the Member Self Service centre. Or you can call us or fill out a "change direct debit details" form which is on the website under Managing Your Cover and email or post it to us.

rt health mobile app

Don’t forget you can claim Extras benefits more easily by downloading the rt health mobile app. The app makes it easy to submit a claim, view your account activity and your claims history. Everything else you need to know about using the app can be found on our website.

August 2021

OPSM remote optometry

Members are now able to access OPSM Tele-Optometry, an innovative solution that gives you remote access to essential optometry services, no matter where you are. You can book a remote video consultation with an OPSM optometrist from the comfort of your home, based on suitability and eye care needs. There is no cost currently associated with this service.   

Tele-Optometry is like a short consultation in store and many eye conditions can be managed by this short consultation. If OPSM can’t resolve your issue with Tele-Optometry, they’ll immediately direct you to your nearest OPSM store, a doctor for general medical care or a hospital if necessary.

To book a consultation, contact your nearest store or call 1800 626 300 and the  team will connect you with an OPSM optometrist. OPSM stores in NSW remain open providing essential care. To find out more please follow the link https://www.opsm.com.au/tele-optometry

Meet our members

Meet Nola, 92 years young. With both her grandfather and father working on the railways, plus a brother, Nola has a long and happy history of involvement with the railways. Here she talks about her family’s experience, which included fun holidays to Sawtell, near Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast, when the family took up a whole train carriage for the trip. Nola joined rt health in 1946, which means she has now been a member for 76 years.

Click here to watch Nola's story

Emergency dental treatment from National Dental Care

For people affected by a current lockdown, you can still visit a National Dental Care dentist for any issue that is classed as a dental emergency. These include:

  • Toothache
  • Chipped or broken tooth that is irritating the tongue or is unsightly
  • Lost filling that is irritating the tongue or is unsightly
  • Knocked-out or loose adult tooth

To find your nearest National Dental Care location where you can use your rt health cover, click here: https://rthealthfund.com.au/health-services/find-a-dental-clinic/

Telehealth and in-person treatments

Don’t forget – whether you are in lockdown or not – you can use Telehealth services for both ancillary treatments and for GP appointments. This means you can consult practitioners such as psychologists, dieticians and occupational therapists via phone or video; as well as GPs. For physical therapists such as osteopaths and physios, you are still able to consult in person as these are essential services.

Reviewing your cover

It makes sense to review your cover regularly, especially with major life changes, such as having children. We’ve created a short video of when it’s a good time to update your cover. Our team can give you a quote to ensure you are on the right cover for your life stage.

Click here to view the video

Side-effects from Covid-19 vaccines covered by health insurance

rt health will cover members who are admitted to hospital for the treatment of an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine if they have a hospital insurance policy. This is the same principle that applies to any treatment, whether it is required because of an adverse reaction to a vaccine, medication, or is due to some other cause.

It's normal to get some side effects when you receive a vaccine, but these are usually mild-to-moderate and generally go away within one to two days.

We’re here for you – give us a call

Despite the majority of our staff being based in Sydney on stay-at home orders, our call centre is operating at full strength and we are determined to serve all our members with efficiency and dedicated care right now.

Please feel free to call us and speak to one of our member service specialists.