Monday, 15 December 2014
Tony Abbott's Real Christmas Message: Over 15 million Australians likely see the cost of their GP increase by at least $5 and perhaps much more
It’s December 2014 and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott didn’t release his real Christmas Message on YouTube this year – he used a 9 December media release announcing he had cut Medicare rebate payments for standard GP visits by $5 and that there would be no Medicare fee increases for all services provided by GPs, medical specialists, allied health practitioners, optometrists and others until July 2018.
An est. 8 million patients, including children, pensioners, veterans, nursing home residents and others with concession cards would be exempt from the $5 co-payment.
That leaves over 15 million other Australians who are likely to find they have to pay extra to see their local doctor, even if the practice has a general policy of bulk billing patients for the current $37.05 Medicare standard consultation fee.
Given there is now also a requirement that general practitioners spend more time with patients to qualify for the standard consultation fee, many doctors may make the decision to abandon bulk billing altogether and charge an upfront fee of at least $60.
Medicare data for 2010-11 reveals that on the NSW North Coast an est. 83.9% of all medical services were bulk billed in the federal electorate of Richmond, 81.4% in the Cowper electorate and 72.6% in the Page electorate.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) recommends GPs charge $75 for such consultations, meaning patients without concessions are usually out of pocket $37.95. But Dr Costa told The Newcastle Herald that because some doctors were already charging $80, it was likely some would be charging at least $100 by 2016.
The Daily Mail 14 December 2014: