International students may be charged private insurance fee under new clinic ownership

Allianz has been charging a >$10 administration fee to international students since late last year

Better Medical, the new operator of the university health practice, has stated that no changes will be made to the current bulk-billing arrangement with domestic students.

An email sent to UofA students two weeks ago revealed that Adelaide University will sell all four of the UniCare practices to Better Medical, a specialist general practice operator.

‘Under this agreement, the business and assets of the University Health practice, the Unihealth Highbury practice, the Unihealth Playford GP Super Clinic (excluding its land and buildings), and Minlaton Medical Centre will be sold to Better Medical.’

Better Medical was founded in 2015 and currently has 71 clinics across four Australian states. It claims that its model of primary care is doctor-led and patient-focused.

The University advised that a key aim is to collaborate with Better Medical to ensure ‘services provided to staff and students at the North Terrace clinic are unaffected.’

Better Medical has confirmed to On Dit that bulk billing will continue to be available for all students visiting the University Health Practice who hold a valid Medicare card. Mixed billing will also be available and a discounted gap fee for university staff will continue.

International students may pay Allianz fee

Last year, it was reported by Student Representative Council President, Oscar Ong, that international students with Allianz private health cover were being charged a >$10 out-of-pocket fee for Unicare visits.

This was due to a change in Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) policy, with Unicare management deciding that students should foot the new charge.

Ong is opposed to this decision and has lobbied the new management to cover the cost. In the meantime, he has advised international students to visit UniSA’s student clinic, which does not charge the admin fee.

Better Medical could not yet confirm that it would cover the fee out of its own pocket.

‘Once we have finalised the sale, It will be very much business as usual, and we will engage with right stakeholders before making changes.

‘We understand how OSHC works and if the need arises, we can help the clinics to coordinate with medical specialists to minimise any out-of-pocket expenses that could be incurred.’

Current staff to remain, feedback welcomed

The company stated that ‘we want all doctors, nurses and staff currently working at the UniCare clinics to continue to work with Better Medical.

‘We understand that high-quality primary health care cannot be delivered without the crucial input and dedication of nurses, allied health professionals, and administration staff.’

The operator has assured that it will place students as a key focus for its practices. It currently facilitates medical and nursing student placements in clinics nationally.

‘We aim to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for students to learn in a practical setting and look forward to working alongside Adelaide University to expand our offerings in this important area.’

It says that with time enhancements may be introduced to enable better support to patients. These include system and/or technology improvements.

The university has advised that it will work with the Board of Unicare and Better Medical to ensure a smooth transition of ownership.

Adelaide Unicare had been owned completely by the University of Adelaide. It was under the corporate trustee of Unihealth Research & Development Trust, the sole beneficiary of which was the University of Adelaide.

Better Medical advises those with constructive feedback on how it can further support university staff and students to email their ideas to marketing@bettermedical.com.au.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Ivan Jankovic, Stasi Kapetanos, Isobel Moore, and Michelle Roylance. Get in touch: onditmag@gmail.com