Private Hospital Prescriptions Rip-off

Anyone have experience with over-inflated Prescription prices from Private Hospitals??

Just had my two bottom Wisdom teeth removed last weekend as a private patient done at a Private hospital in Sydney. Basically day surgery and was in and out within about 5 hours all up. On the way out, they gave me a bag of pills and a mouth wash consisting of:

Generic Panadeine Forte 20 pack ($18.03)
Generic Nurofen 200mg 50 pack ($6.99)
Amoxil 500mg 20 pack ($22.16)
Savacol Mouthwash ($14.95)


Total $62.13

Same BoM from Chemist Warehouse using the original brands - not generic:
$8.99 Panadeine Forte

$7.39 Nurofen 200mg

$7.99 Amoxil 500mg - NO PBS

$8.49 Savacol Mouthwash

total: $32.86

This is almost half the cost and using branded stuff. Alternative brands will shave another $10 off this price.

Really.. how the hell do they justify this? I would have preferred they give me the prescription and I'd buy it directly from Chemist warehouse or my local Pharmacy instead.

I called their number to express my concerns on their pricing. They started to say it was because PBS was not applicable under these circumstances but I questioned them that almost all of these are off-the-shelf which does not have PBS. The only script required was Amoxyl which isnt on the PBS anymore anyway because the patent's run out years ago and get plenty of cheap alternatives.
They offered to…. "PRICE MATCH" (each your heart out, OBZers!) with my local Pharmacy (or Chemist Warehouse in this case). Makes me wonder that if people didnt care or didnt know about the actual prices, then they are realistically the targets to be ripped off. It puts the onus on the patient to research and ask for a discount against these prices?? I can understand doing this with Officeworks and stuff.. but we are talking healthcare and the wellbeing of patients.


  • +2 votes

    Really.. how the hell do they justify this?

    Private Hospital.

    it's a business.

    to make money.

    In Japan any medical service/business can only be operated by an actual Dr. This reduces a primary need (health care) being dictated by profiteering to the cost and disadvantage of the patient (I'm looking at you America)

    • It is - they are there to make money yes.. but charging patients twice as much as retail prices? That is just daylight robbery.

  • +1 vote

    Sorry I am confused…

    If you go to a public hospital: they give you free medicine….

    If you go to a private hospital, with most insurances; they give you free medicine….

    • Not sure why they didnt include it in the hospital fee.. I paid excess for it so should it include the meds?

      • Because health funds have a sneaky way of getting around it. I had a similar experience several years ago when I had a basal cell carcinoma removed from my eyelid (private hospital, day procedure). When they were going through the discharge process, I was given prescription meds (antibiotic eye gel). I wasn't given the option of taking the prescription and having it filled elsewhere, it had already been dispensed from their pharmacy - and I was still too out of it from the sedation to even question it at the time. A few days later I received a bill for it from the hospital pharmacy - can't remember how much it was, but much more expensive than I would have paid at Chemist Warehouse etc. No problem, I thought, I'll just claim it from HBF as it was related to the hospital procedure. Nope - they only cover medication given/administered to you as an inpatient (and then only if it's on the PBS or covered under your HBF extras policy), but NOT meds that are given to you on discharge, despite the fact the meds are actually prescribed and the prescription filled BEFORE you're discharged.

      • Wrong. public and private meds are free for duration of stay. All meds ordered for discharge or upon discharge are charged to the pt. But u have the right to ask for a script instead of using the hospital's pharmacy.

        • Good to know.. But considering I was so drugged up, I was basically given the bag of goodies and given an arse shove on the way out. "Thank you"..

        • Not exactly "wrong" - I should have worded my post better though! Yes, items that are covered under the PBS are usually free in public/private hospitals, however if you are prescribed medication that is NOT on the PBS (in either public or private), your health fund may or may not cover the cost of those depending on the cover you have, restrictions and limits of that cover and often a co-payment will apply. The HBF website also states in the In-Hospital Pharmacy benefits section of Hospital cover that "It also does not cover medications dispensed but not used during your time in hospital. If you need cover for this service, consider Pharmacy in our Extras products and packages" - which only covers non-PBS prescription medications which are listed on HBF's own Pharmacy Benefit Schedule so again, the medication may or may not be covered.

          As previously mentioned, I wasn't given the option of being given the prescription - in fact, I wasn't even aware that I would be given any prescription meds on discharge, nothing was mentioned until the nurse actually handed the meds over at the discharge desk, so it was already a "done deal" as it had been dispensed, and I wasn't "with it" enough at the time to think anything of it. I'll know better next time though!

        • @bchliu: But considering I was so drugged up, I was basically given the bag of goodies and given an arse shove on the way out. "Thank you".

          Same here LOL.

        • @SimbaGirl: Honestly.. I think this is actually where I have the most problem with. Being drugged up and barely conscious - they take advantage of you at your weakest knowing the fact that you cannot come back with anything thereafter. Whatever happened to medical morality about taking advantage of people at their most vulnerable?

        • @SimbaGirl: This is correct in the private system it really depends on your health fund and cover.

    • Nope.. pretty sure you get charged for prescriptions on discharge when u leave a public hospital too..

  • You are basically doing the equivalent of buying food and alcohol from Airport cafe / bars, or buying a round at the MCG.

    If you want Chemist Warehouse prices, perhaps you could consider going to somewhere like…..Chemist Warehouse?

    • I would if I knew in advance how much it was gonna cost. Not to mention I was barely walking out of the hospital on my own after being 2 hours under Anesthetic (knocked out). If I had known, I would have just requested a script etc.

  • What is Generic Nurofen? Isn't that Ibuprofen? About $2 in supermarkets.

  • Thanks for the heads up. Pity you had to take one for OzB. Name the private hospital?

  • Thanks for the heads up. I wonder if I can ask for a script instead if I ever needed to use a hospital. I mean Panadeine and Neurofen are both just painkillers. Why would you need both? If I had a script, I probably would have just filled one and skip the mouth wash and antibiotics.

    • They work differently in different areas of the body. Thats why you can do Panadeine (paracetamol + Codeine) and Nurofen (Ibuprofen) at the same time. One works on nerve receptors and one works on the pain centre in the brain (or something similar).

      That Mouthwash (Savacol) isnt your normal Listerine BTW - this one is a bit more special and does work on reducing the bleeding and inflammation but is bit like having a cold fire in your mouth.

      I did drop the Panadeine though after two days because I am not very good with Codeine and other Morphine based stuff. Makes you bloated and err.. not regular lets just say.

      • bloated and err.. not regular

        = opioid-induced constipation

      • Thats why you can do Panadeine (paracetamol + Codeine) and Nurofen (Ibuprofen) at the same time. One works on nerve receptors and one works on the pain centre in the brain (or something similar).

        lmao what
        - paracetamol no one know how it (fully) works
        - codeine binds to opioid (mu) receptors in the brain for analgesia: no such thing as a pain centre
        - ibuprofen (the analgesic effect) works by blocking COX2 (present in inflamed tissue) which means less inflammation

        nerve receptors are blocked (prevented from closing) by (local) anaesthetics

        That Mouthwash (Savacol) isnt your normal Listerine BTW - this one is a bit more special and does work on reducing the bleeding and inflammation but is bit like having a cold fire in your mouth.

        my understanding is that savacol contains the same active ingredient as the handwash that's used in hospitals (chlorhexidine): nothing special, "kills" more bacteria

        (thanks for providing exam revision for me)

    • Pretty sure they have to give you the script. Can't force you to use their pharmacy.

      My private hospital gave me the choice, script or their pharmacy

      • They should give you the choice - but not when you were just out of 2 hours of anesthesia and barely able to make a decision on what's what. Under this circumstance, you are in their total care and you'd assume that they will not do anything to take advantage of you at your most vulnerable. They didnt give me an option, nor a price on the medication - just crammed the bag of med's in my arms as I was getting picked up by the wife.

  • agree with you esp. since you're going through the private system you'd expect somewhat more choice. BUT
    few things of note: public system often don't give you medications from the onsite pharmacist due to extra paper work - you'd actually be surprised how strained the hospital system is.

    Medications you take during the stay at the hospital are covered by the government. Anything you take home, you pay, even if the prescription was written during your stay, its medications for you to take after your stay.
    Script is also possible if you ask for it (more done in the public system).

    Generic Panadeine Forte 20 pack ($18.03) is the PBS price which indeed is prescription only
    Amoxil 500mg 20 pack ($22.16) is the branded PBS price. If the patent "ran out" doesn't mean it becomes non-PBS, it just means other companies are also able to produce it (generally at a cheaper price point, but not necessarily).

    Insurance generally only pays for prescription when it's over a threshold ($38) (whatever the max PBS is).

    The prices look reasonable to me for the Savacol and the ibuprofen. Chemist warehouse just chooses to engage in anti-competitive marketing really forcing smaller pharmacies to go out of business.

    To who said ibuprofen is $2 at supermarkets; OP bought a box of 50. In supermarkets I recall max is something like 12 or 24. The right to sell higher quantities is reserved to pharmacies.
    There's also slightly different formula leading to different pharmacokinetics (how its absorbed etc) "liquid" and what salt they add.
    Branded drugs are sometimes different from their generics. Only very important when considering antiepileptics / CNS drugs, but still there are differences sometimes (i.e. not what the general public thinks; big pharmas are scamming us!!!!!!!!).

    but not when you were just out of 2 hours of anaesthesia and barely able to make a decision on what's what

    Not really financially viable for them to let you sit around taking their beds. I know it's the private system but really… They only monitor you for long enough that you wake up again. I don't think they were taking advantage of you per se., if you went through the private system they probably thought they were doing you a favour by getting you the medication at standard price. It's what most people want when they go private. Definitely not taking advantage of you "at your most vulnerable" as you keep mentioning. Having said that, they should have offered you the choice but it's one extra step for them that most people don't use.

    Funny that you complain about $30-odd dollars when you choose GA over LA for 2 wisdom teeth (that itself would have saved you about $2000 from the anaesthetist) if it wasn't for insurance.
    I have no clue how much your insurance paid / etc. but that's your business and not mine.

    In all honesty unless there's an indication, the mouthwash isn't required. Ibuprofen would be take as required (not everyone has the same pain threshold).
    Would have definitely prescribed a course of amoxicillin and codeine though.

    Constipation will cease with cessation of the codeine, don't worry about that. :)

  • there is no real ethics among these businesses which make money on your health. beyond making money. the government supports such businesses which rip off consumers like the energy companies. other companies prey off the aged in aged care. the list goes on and on.

  • Having had a few ops. Over the years I came to realise that I was being ripped off by the hospital pharmacy with prices being double on average of purchasing at Priceline, Greg’s or Chemist Warehouse. So refused the meds & requested scripts instead which I then get sorted at my choice of pharmacy. They don’t like their meds. being refused but have to comply.
    Totally agree that had it been public ops. all meds. Would be free. As we pay a fortune for private insurance ( top cover with HBF) I am disgusted at this practice of charging again.
    Private hospitals main concern should be on the care of patients - not how much more money they can get out of them. Even had to pay for physio.!
    Shame on them.

  • My partner has top hospital cover with Bupa, recently had an op, same thing being prescribed checkout meds which were about 2.5 times more expensive. Still out of pocket by about $3K. I was talking to someone who had the same procedure with standard medicare. no out of pocket expenses plus a wheelchair, crutches, physio also included. Go private and these are all charged separately with only partial cover from Bupa. Makes me wonder if health insurance is actually worth it. I wonder if you can actually get an op done with health insurance gap free.

    • Healthcare will always be a problem for governments. Similarly with social security payments. School education. The list goes on. Perhaps tax 60-70% to everyone's income and let the government take care of all our services.

      Whenever some things like education, healthcare, services are "free" we don't appreciate the cost until you pay for it and realise your taxes barely cover.