Sarah Nix has run out of money and is now being forced to make a life-altering decision.
The 26-year-old from Brisbane and her husband Matthew can no longer keep affording to fork out thousands of dollars for her endometriosis surgeries on top of the $ 5000 a year they already pay for their private health insurance.
Mrs Nix was diagnosed with the debilitating condition that causes tissue similar to the lining of the womb to grow outside it two years ago.
Her pain is so horrendous she hasn’t been able to drive or work for the past 18 months.
But on top of the horrific pain, Mrs Nix has the added burden of ongoing medical bills.
And she’s not the only one — tonight’s episode of Insight on SBS highlights how patients are paying high out-of-pocket fees for specialists and surgeries, from people who have had cancer to those with disc problems.
When Mrs Nix tallied up her costs, she was actually worse off than some of the cancer patients.
“I’ve had five surgeries in total but it just keeps coming back,” she told news.com.au.
“I can’t get rid of it.”
She estimates the surgeries plus everything else have put her out of pocket more than $ 30,000, with lost wages of $ 14,000 on top of that.
The couple had to get rid of their car and have set up a GoFundMe page to try to recuperate some of the costs.
“We have top hospital and top extras but they only cover my bed stays,” she said.
“Private health is really misleading.
“I always thought I was covered, but no.”
But Mrs Nix said she couldn’t afford not to have insurance, with waiting times in the public system too long.
She’s had to wait more than three hours for pain relief presenting to a public emergency department compared with five minutes in the private system.
“I wouldn’t get that in the public system so I can’t afford not to,” she said.
“But at the same time I can’t afford to keep it because it doesn’t cover anything.
“The public system isn’t good enough — it’s a 12-month wait for surgery and to see a specialist is a few months.”
Mrs Nix said on one occasion she was in so much pain her doctor made a decision to perform surgery on the spot, a luxury she wouldn’t get in the public system.
Now Mrs Nix is being forced to make the harrowing decision of having a hysterectomy when the couple were planning on having children.
“We just can’t keep affording to pay for surgeries, so my husband and I have made the decision if by the end of the year I’m still in pain that’s what I’m doing,” she said.
“It sounds like a hard decision as a young woman, but you know when you are in so much pain that you just want to end it, no matter how you do it? Financially, we just can’t continue this way. We’ve got nothing left.”
That surgery will also cost between $ 2000 and $ 6000.
“A lot of people are calling on the Government to change it (private health insurance), but I’m calling on private health insurance companies to change,” she said.
“I remember when I was a kid private health used to cover everything, whereas now it covers nothing. If they fix that our public system would probably be better off because more people would take out private health.”
Out of Pocket will air on Insight, SBS at 8.30pm tonight.
Have you been left massively out of pocket? Email email@example.com or share your story in the comments below.