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Australia’s record-breaking bulk billing Medicare rate? Debunked by RACGP

Medicine, The Business of Health, The Health Industry

Medicare bulk billing rates have hit the highest in recorded history according to the Department of Health. They say that Australians are aware and are taking advantage of this health care benefit with an inflation of 0.6% in 2017 compared to 2016.

According to the Department of Health:Fully subsidized Medicare services is not an exception with an increase of $8.2 million over the previous year. In total, the cost of all Medicare benefits paid from 2016 – 2017 amounts to a staggering $22 billion dollars.

There is a comittment to further increase the funds for Medicare every year.

  • $23 billion dollars 2017 – 2018
  • $24 billion dollars 2018 – 2019
  • $26 billion dollars 2019 – 2020
  • $28 billion dollars 2020 – 2021

The Department of Health and Department of Human Services stated complete support to the health care program to provide quality health care for the people.

In contrast, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) President Dr Bastian Seidel has said that although the increase was noted, it was however, the lowest increase in a decade. He said, “As always with simplified statistics, the devil is buried deep in the detail: a marginally increased bulk billing rate fails to acknowledge that Australian patients are further out of pocket when they visit their GP.”

Dr Bastian also argued that:

  • Out of pocket costs for GP services increased by 4.6% in the last 12 months, which may have been the cause for about 200,000 patients to delay their GP visits during that time.
  • With an average of $29 a month benefit paid per patient, GPs cannot be expected to provide a top-notch health care service at this bargain basement price.

“We will see an even further increase in out of pocket fees, as the low Medicare rebates for bulk billed consultations for some patients will be cross subsidised by the out of pocket contribution from others. This is unsustainable.

“This is why the RACGP has been calling for greater investment and appropriate funding for general practice.

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