Bulk billing rates hit record level in Bonner

An increased number of Australians are attending General Practitioner (GP) appointments without reaching into their pockets, with GP bulk billing rates in Queensland under Medicare hitting a record high of 86 per cent for the full year of 2018-19.

Since 2012-13, GP bulk billing rates in Queensland have increased by over four percent from 81.6 per cent, proving Medicare is stronger than ever before under this Government.

Member for Bonner, Ross Vasta said the new GP bulk billing figures were “evidence more Queenslanders are visiting their doctor without having to pay a cent.”

“Australia has one of the best health systems in the world, founded on Medicare,”Mr Vasta said.

“These figures show Medicare, under the Morrison Government is supporting the health and wellbeing of Australians more than ever.”

Nationally, a GP bulk billing rate of 86.2 per cent saw a four percentage point increase on the 2012-13 figure with a total cost of all Medicare services in 2018-19 of $24.1 billion which is an increase of 3.5 per cent in benefits paid.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the figures showed Medicare was “supporting the health and wellbeing of Australians more than ever before.”

“By increasing our investment in Medicare, the Morrison Government is ensuring it supports quality health care,” Minister Hunt said.

On 1 July this year, the Government increased the patient rebate for further GP items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule. Specialist procedures, allied health services and other GP services such as mental health and after hour’s services, were indexed.

The Medicare Benefits Schedule Review will ensure Medicare services are effective and appropriate for patients now and into the future.

Read More

Prime Minister’s Joint Press Release: A Strong and Sustainable Medicare

The $7 Medicare co-payment measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget will no longer proceed.

The Government will instead implement a package of measures that will strengthen Medicare and help make it sustainable, ensuring Australians will continue to have access to affordable, world-class health care.

The Government has listened to the views of the community. 

This new package ensures the Government can make Medicare sustainable, improve the quality of care for patients and continue its repair of the Budget.

The Medicare rebate paid to doctors for some consultations will be reduced by $5 and the troublesome issue of ‘six minute medicine’ will be addressed by encouraging doctors to spend more time with patients.

Optional co-payment and protection for patients

A new optional co-payment will be introduced for GP services with additional protections for patients.

The Government will not impose a co-payment on GP services provided to pensioners, Commonwealth concession card holders, all children under the age of 16, veterans funded through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, attendances at residential aged care facilities and pathology and diagnostic imaging services. 

Incentives paid to doctors to encourage them to bulk bill concession card holders and children under the age of 16 will also remain.

Medicare rebates for common GP consultations will be reduced by $5 for non-concessional patients aged 16 and over from 1 July 2015.

Doctors may choose to recoup the $5 rebate reduction through an optional co-payment or continue to bulk bill non-concessional patients over the age of 16. 

Doctors will be under no obligation to charge the co-payment and this decision will be entirely at their discretion.

Improving patient outcomes by tackling ‘six minute medicine’

In a further move to streamline Medicare and improve quality outcomes, the Government will make changes to standard GP consultation items which currently provide the same Medicare rebate for a six minute consultation as for a 19 minute consultation.

This change will ensure that Medicare expenditure more accurately reflects the time a GP spends with a patient.

It encourages a shift away from ‘six minute medicine’ so that appropriate, comprehensive care is better rewarded over patient throughput. 

Additionally Medicare fees for all services provided by GPs, medical specialists, allied health practitioners, optometrists and others will remain at their current level until July 2018.

Making Medicare Sustainable and the Medical Research Future Fund

The Government is committed to taking these prudent measures to protect Medicare. 

Medicare will not survive in the long term without changes to make it sustainable.

In the last decade spending on Medicare has more than doubled from $8 billion in 2004 to $20 billion today, yet we raise only $10 billion from the Medicare levy. Spending is projected to climb to $34 billion in the next decade to 2024.

In the last year alone, 275 million services were provided free to patients. That’s three out of every four Medicare services being bulk billed.  

These changes will contribute more than $3 billion to the Medical Research Future Fund which will fund the research needed to find cures to the health problems of today. 

In six years the returns from the MRFF will provide a billion dollars to be invested in medical research annually – doubling our national funding commitments to researchers.

Read More