HCF Bowral will permanently close its doors at 3pm this Wednesday, November 7.
The closure of the last shopfront of any healthcare fund in the Southern Highlands came as a surprise to many customers, who were officially notified in a letter that arrived less than two weeks before the branch was scheduled to close.
The letter thanked the Bowral branch team for their commitment and support to the community. HCF has also reached out to several customers directly by phone to help manage the transition. It is understood that an extra staff member had to be called in during the final weeks as the branch was inundated with customers making claims before the closure.
One woman, who did not wish to be identified, said there were always customers utilising the branch whenever she was there and was “worried” what the closure would mean for her as she undergoes treatment for breast cancer.
“There are cheaper private healthcare plans out there, but one of the main reasons I stayed with HCF was the face-to-face contact,” she said.
“When you’re going through treatment it can be really hard to organise yourself. I found it so confusing to do it over the phone so I found myself relying upon the help of the branch staff. You never seem to get the same response and information over the phone.”
Another man, who also asked not be identified, said he had contacted the HCF head office in Sydney to see if there was any chance of another, possibly smaller, branch remaining open in the district.
“There are so many retired people and elderly people who wouldn’t know how to make a claim on the computer. They recommended I use the phone service, but I had to wait nearly half an hour just to be put through for that phone call,” he said.
“I’ve also had a bit of confusion about what is HCF and what is medicare and the staff [at the branch] were always so accommodating and took me through it so I could understand.”
Following the closure, the two nearest HCF branches will be in Campbelltown and Wollongong. It is understood that the retail space that HCF occupied in Corbett Plaza has already been taken up by a women’s fashion brand.
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