Anita I,m not sure of wait times in your area but my advice to you is to start on the process now. You can book your surgery date for November when your PHI will cover you. Some specialists have a process of seeing different health care professionals before they go ahead and that can take a few months. Some specialists take 2 months or more to get first appointment.
The prossess I went through was.
Read reviews,ask around, and choose your specialists you want quotes from.
Go to your own Gp and ask who they could highly recommend and then discuss who you want referrals to. Each specialist requires a personal referral and will charge for an appointment. I saw specialists Gp first who explained everything and checked I wanted to go ahead see specialist.
You can then ring the specialists rooms and ask for appointments. I rang and checked the waiting time for an appointment and out of pocket costs before going to GP.
You may need to see the specialists GP or a psycHologist an excersise therapist and a dietitian before the op Depending on the specialist. This all takes time.
Some specialists want you on an extended pre op diet as well for more than two weeks - I had to loose 8kgs pre surgery so had to factor in 6weeks to do that.
It also takes time to get your headspace around it all so the sooner you start the better. Some specialists want an endoscopy done first - you would need Phi for this.
Write down all your questions and thoroughly search out each surgeons process. You can get it all looked into and then take your time to decide who you want to go with. Check out how and when the up front payments are made. Also how much gap you will have to pay for each appointment as it all adds up.
My surgeon has a lower gap than most and only required 3 pre op appointments plus the anaesthetists making it 4. I didn't require an endoscopy either.
Best of luck. I,m 5 days post op so starting on my journey. All went well for me - no regrets.
If money is an issue ask around in here what current sleevers are paying out for different surgeons. Your Phi won't cover it all. Or ring specialists receptionists and ask them before you get referral.