From 1 July 2015 patients can expect to pay $7 GP consultations, as well as out-of-hospital pathology and imaging services. Concessional patients, for example those who hold a Pension Concession Card, will only pay the $7 for the first 10 combined services they use in each calendar year. The 10 services can consist of any combination of standard GP visits, pathology or imaging.
Those who have special health needs, such as those with Health Assessments or those on Chronic Disease Management programs, will be exempt from the patient contribution.
For every $7 patient contribution, $5 will be invested in the new Medical Research Future Fund. This $5 will come from the Government reducing the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebates provided to GPs for standard consultations, as well as pathology and imaging, by $5. The other $2 will go to the healthcare provider.
Providers will still have discretion over whether to charge the $7, but if they choose not to collect the patient contribution they will not receive the Low Gap Incentives from the Government for that consultation.
States and Territories will also be able to introduce patient contributions in hospitals for GP equivalent visits to emergency departments.
How will this affect you?
Example – A Pension Concession Card holder visits the doctor 12 times in one calendar year. He or she will pay a total of $70 – $7 per visit for the first 10 visits, and nothing for the final two.
Non-concessional patients can expect to see their Medicare rebates for GP visits reduced by $5, all of which will be invested in the Medical Research Future Fund.