Medicare sitting on $110m in unpaid rebates

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Medicare has in its coffers around $110 million in unclaimed rebates owed to Australians who haven’t supplied correct information or have failed to chase up their entitlements.

Since cheques were phased out in 2016, around 670,000 Australians who haven’t made electronic claims – or who have but haven’t supplied correct email addresses or bank details – are owed rebates.

Older Australians in particular may have favoured the ‘snail mail’ version of filing for and receiving Medicare rebates. The reasons for not supplying Medicare with financial information may vary from not trusting the government with banking or medical information, to not having the required skills or access to the necessary technology to make such claims.

However, by not providing Medicare with these details, they have not only short-changed themselves but they have also inadvertently contributed to the rising out-of-pocket costs in healthcare.

“People tell themselves they will get around to claiming their money one day, but never do,” said Human Services Minister Michael Keenan.

“My advice is set aside a couple of minutes as soon as possible to do what is a really simple task that will ensure you receive what you are entitled to quickly and easily.”

The total of unclaimed rebates represents less than half a per cent of the amount paid out each year and has been compared by Mr Keenan to lost or unclaimed superannuation.

Read more at The Australian

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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25 Comments

Total Comments: 25
  1. 0
    0

    “In other news, Medicare reveals that it’s sitting on $110 million in unclaimed rebates. Leon reports and outlines how, in a few simple steps, you can ensure that your entitlements come your way.”

    I suspect Leon forgot to outline how we can recover our entitlements. Can we be told?

    • 0
      0

      No, if you provide your bank details, they will pay you. However, what has Medicare done, and what measures will they take, to pay the money they owe. If they do nothing they may gain $110 million?

    • 0
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      Albert, If you paid an out of pocket fee at say your GP then you take that receipt to the nearest Medicare office and they will process it there and then in front of you. If your bank account is not on your record then they will ask you for it, you tell them, and the refund goes strait in. You can of course lodge the claim on-line if you want to.

      Many medical services now do it automatically for you when you pay before you leave the service. The refund is then automatically made to your account.

      The trouble is, that if you have not given Medicare your bank details, then you will not get the refund. So either call Medicare or go to an office and make sure your details are up to date. Its not that hard. If people can arrange for their pension or other welfare payments to be paid into their bank account, they can do this too.

  2. 0
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    Medicare should be connected with the births and deaths registrar , Centrelink and customs. These people may be dead or moved overseas.

    • 0
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      Regardless of whether they are living or dead or overseas, Medicare owes these people $110 million. They need to find a way to pay them, rather than make it harder as they have done.

    • 0
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      Theo1943, if people can arrange for their welfare payments to go into their bank account, they can do this. Its not that hard. Just tell Medicare your bank account details and the payments are made.

  3. 0
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    Clearly the government has gravely erred when deciding, unilaterally, that it would no longer send out cheque refunds to legitimate claimants. No alternatives were considered when withdrawing the mailing service.

    Here’s what a report FROM 2012 reported:

    “MORE than half a million Australians do not have a bank account, with escalating fees putting them out of reach, a survey has found.

    The average cost of basic financial services, including bank account and credit card fees is almost $1800 a year, which many Australians cannot afford, the University of New South Wales Centre for Social Impact report said. The Wollongong region in New South Wales topped the nation, with 7 per cent of adults not having an account. In Brisbane’s west, Sydney’s southern suburbs and the Australian Capital Territory the figure was running at 5 per cent, slightly above the Australian average of 3 per cent.”

    Yet “OUR” government thinks it’s OK to not provide alternatives – they closed down shopfront claim centres at the same time where claims and payments were afforded previously.

    The vast majority of Australians with a Medicare card also have a tax file number (TFN). Current government cross referencing all Australian’s details could be used to either:

    1. Credit the Medicare payments to the persons TFN for refund against their annual tax return each year,
    or
    2. Confirm the bank account details of the Medicare repayment recipient against the government files monitoring all financial transactions, identify accounts and relevant addresses, cross match and check with Medicare claim, then write to the delinquent claimant informing them of their rebate or offering to credit against their next Tax Return.

    No, No, why would “OUR” government do such a thing. THEY HAVE ZERO RESPECT FOR AUSTRALIANS, and have zero idea of the pressures on everyone today, just to keep up.

    SHAME ON YOU GREG HUNT.

    • 0
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      For goodness sake WtR. If people can manage to claim welfare and have it paid to a bank account, they can manage to tell Medicare their bank details. All pensions and other welfare are paid into bank accounts and that doesn’t seem to cause any problem!

      And very few workplaces these days ever pay wages in cash. So even the working poor would have a bank account.

      It says more about the inertia of the individual than it does about Medicare or the Health Minister.

      People whinge about Australia becoming a Nanny state yet expect the ‘Government’ to spoon feed them instead of taking responsibility for their own money. Look at how much superannuation is also ‘lost’ due to negligence of the account holder.

      As for the cost of basic financial services and credit card fees being $1800 – not to me it isn’t. I pay for none of those things.

    • 0
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      Where did you get that crap from, $1,800 on average. You know some stats shouldn’t be relied upon, this is one of them. Does that $1,800 include interest on credit cards I wonder, so, so many people today pay NO FEES on bank accounts/credit cards due to funds held in the bank or they have a mortgage maybe, just depends on what offers the banks have. I haven’t paid fees for over 25 years on accounts and NEVER paid interest. I doubt half a million people don’t have a bank account because of fees, banks have accounts with no fees, basic accounts but that’s all that’s needed. People may decide to not have a bank account because they are hiding money, that’s more likely what’s happening.

      You said the government could put the refund against their tax return – haha, more people wouldn’t have a tax return to do compared to not having a bank account.

      You also talked about data matching, checking accounts, addresses, with the multitude of financial institutions out there – come on get real, what’s the cost involved in all that, probably more then the 110 million.

      There’s an easy solution, make your claim through Medicare, let them know your bank account details (if you don’t have an account open one for this purpose, there ARE free accounts) and the refund will be put into your account. Bloody simple.

  4. 0
    0

    Yes Leon –
    We want to know – How can we recover our entitlements? What are “the few easy steps” you talk about?

    • 0
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      Fill in a claim form, let Medicare know your bank account details and hey presto refund will be made.

      If you don’t have a bank account open one for this purpose (free ones are available).

  5. 0
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    Don’t bother me none.

    I see the doctor in the morning and the money is in my bank account hours later. Sure beats the old – fill in a form, find the receipts, trek down to Medicare, wait in line for 2 hours, put up with a surly, overworked public servant, and begrudgingly get your money when they can’t find a single mistake or error in your form so they can deny the refund.

    Best thing since sliced bread as far as I’m concerned.

    Oh, and if anyone here is paying “$1800 in bank fees” then you urgently need to review your banking. None of my bank accounts have fees, and I have one fee-free credit card, and one with fees which is about to get the chop.

  6. 0
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    Minister Michael Keenan deserves a “very well done” for bringing this to the publics’ attention and giving people a second chance to make their claim.

  7. 0
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    We lost our Medicare office a few years ago when the government decided to move it to the motor registry which is located many kilometers away in an industrial complex. I don’t believe there is a bus route there so many people are disadvantaged.

  8. 0
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    Medicare, please post cheques out to these people, with a nice covering letter helping them to comply with the bank account details requirement. It is their money after all.

    • 0
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      Just log into your MyGov account, link your Medicare if you haven’t done it already, and I am sure you can enter your bank details to enrol for automatic payment – if your doctor(s) support it. Otherwise phone them and do it that way.

      I am also reasonably sure most doctors – or at least a good number – now support the online claiming and will enrol you on the spot. I know I did mine through my GP clinic years ago, and all other doctors and specialists I have seen took my Medicare details and processed the claim online as Medicare has my bank details.

    • 0
      0

      Just log into your MyGov account, link your Medicare if you haven’t done it already, and I am sure you can enter your bank details to enrol for automatic payment – if your doctor(s) support it. Otherwise phone them and do it that way.

      I am also reasonably sure most doctors – or at least a good number – now support the online claiming and will enrol you on the spot. I know I did mine through my GP clinic years ago, and all other doctors and specialists I have seen took my Medicare details and processed the claim online as Medicare has my bank details.

    • 0
      0

      Just log into your MyGov account, link your Medicare if you haven’t done it already, and I am sure you can enter your bank details to enrol for automatic payment – if your doctor(s) support it. Otherwise phone them and do it that way.

      I am also reasonably sure most doctors – or at least a good number – now support the online claiming and will enrol you on the spot. I know I did mine through my GP clinic years ago, and all other doctors and specialists I have seen took my Medicare details and processed the claim online as Medicare has my bank details.

  9. 0
    0

    After a huge number of Medical bills, I went to medicare to ask for help to check and was told it was not their job. So walked out and paid up.

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