Proposal to give patients more say in what they pay their GPs

Font Size:

Four in 10 Australians believe that patients should be able to determine how much they pay for a GP visit.

What’s more, patients would be willing to make voluntary out-of-pocket payments of $25 in return for shorter waiting times and longer consultations.

A Monash University study that tested a ‘Patient-Chosen Gap Payment’ (PCGP) model found that 39 per cent of the 1457 Australians surveyed would prefer to set their own out-of-pocket payment than to be bulk-billed or pay the compulsory gap that many GPs currently charge.

The model allowed patients to choose to pay any amount for their GP consultation, from nothing to, potentially, much more than the average out-of-pocket ‘gap’ payment.

In 2018/19, more than 85 per cent of GP visits were bulk-billed and the average gap payment for visits that were not bulk-billed was $38.46.

Monash University Associate Professor Duncan Mortimer said that the proposed scheme does not mean GPs would see patients for free, with the doctor continuing to receive the Medicare rebate for each patient.

“Our results suggest that patient-chosen prices for primary care could generate an extra $1.48bn in revenue, while also incentivising patient-centred care, without the need for complex outcomes-based funding formulas,” Assoc. Prof. Mortimer said.

“This line of research has the potential to reinvigorate debate around the delivery and funding of primary care in Australia, and in other countries with fee-for-service primary care, such as France, New Zealand and the US.

“We hope to undertake further research to understand how GPs would behave under PCGP pricing.

“What we can say is PCGP services are acceptable to patients and may offer a viable alternative pricing model in the market from primary care services.

“However, PCGP services must be delivered at high quality and with careful design if they are to capture market share and increase out-of-pocket contributions.”

While GPs can currently bulk-bill patients and accept the Medicare rebate as full payment for their services, the researchers explain that GP groups have long argued that the rebate is not enough to cover costs.

Research co-author and general practitioner Dr Daniel Epstein believes the PCGP model could provide a happy medium between compulsory out-of-pocket payments and bulk billing.

“Patients’ willingness to make voluntary contributions may come as a surprise,” Dr Epstein said. “Our research found, given the choice, women in more affluent areas were more willing to pay a little extra, while men in disadvantaged areas were more likely to stick with bulk-billed services.”

Researchers say if GPs respond to the PCGP model by taking a more proactive approach to managing their patients’ health, then costs could decrease – helping to limit further increases in private health insurance premiums.

Would you like the opportunity to pay what you wanted for GP services? Would you be willing to pay more for a longer consultation?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.


University funding shortfalls force cuts to vital research

Uni research stalls on cures for heart disease, stroke, cancer and MND.

Common drug used to treat diabetes may delay dementia

Researchers want to know if it will have the same effect on people without diabetes.

Bee venom can kill ‘untreatable cancer’ cells: study

Australian researcher discovers potential honeybee venom treatment for breast cancer.

Written by Ben


Sign-up to the YourLifeChoices Enewsletter

continue reading


Podcast: Banishing winter blues with cold water companionship

COVID lockdowns can do funny things to people, but last year Melburnian Belle Galloway decided to do something she had...


Soothe your soul with these stunning images of Japan's cherry blossoms

It's sakura season, the perfect opportunity for locals to indulge in hanami, the traditional Japanese custom of 'flower viewing'. On...


Discover New Zealand's best winter attractions

To mark the start of the trans-Tasman bubble, here are some of the best things to do in New Zealand...


Check your passport's expiry date before booking

International travel seems to be slowly but surely returning. With the trans-Tasman bubble and talks of another bubble opening with...


Tips for getting a good night's sleep on holiday

Travel can seriously mess with our sleep. The jet lag that disrupts our body clocks may be the most obvious...


Tasmania's top spots for shopping and markets

The Margate Train offers shopping with a difference at Margate, southern Tasmania. Margate is 20 minutes south of Hobart (19km)...


What will it take for travel to get restarted again?

Maraid is encouraged by the travel bubble with New Zealand opening up and wonders what needs to happen before we...


The unbelievable software flaw that led to a major flight incident

When it comes to flight engineering, you would hope that every possibility has been factored in to perfection, but a...