A leg condition means Brennan Pedrotti can’t sit and play the guitar, can’t play sport and sometimes misses school because the pain is overwhelming.
His feet need straightening, the bones in his lower legs need realigning and the ligaments to be severed and reattached, but the 12-year-old waits in pain because the operation is not available in the public system unless there is a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, which Brennan does not have.
Instead Brennan’s family face having to pay privately for the operation and rehabilitation at a cost of $50,000 to $80,000 – money the Wendouree family does not have.
Until earlier this year the family had private health insurance but were forced to make a decision between paying for school fees and health insurance when Brennan started high school.
Frustratingly, mum Paulina Pedrotti was not told there were hardship provisions and suspensions available for people struggling with the cost of private health insurance despite having held the insurance with BUPA from before Brennan was born.
She dropped the family policy in January, months before learning that Brennan needed the operation.
Despite ringing BUPA and pleading her case, even offering to backpay their policy to January when it was cancelled, their claim was denied and they must serve a 12 month waiting period if they rejoin.
But Brennan can’t wait that long.
“He’s very limited in what he can do … and now the strain is damaging his left hip.”
Ms Pedrotti noticed the problem with Brennan’s legs about five years ago when she realised his feet were turning and rolling inwards.
Adding to Ms Pedrotti’s concern is how she and her husband will care for Brennan after the operation when he has both legs in plaster, can’t walk and will need to be lifted.
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“No one ever told me that if you struggle you can access hardship provisions. No one ever told me that even though a couple of times I missed payments then caught up again. I just want my son to have this operation.”
A statement from BUPA said they helped members who were experiencing unexpected financial hardship on a case by case basis.
“We’re sorry to hear this customer’s personal circumstance. We’re currently getting more information about this specific situation. We understand that increasing health insurance costs create difficulties for many Australians,” the statement said.
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