15th Nov 2016
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Would you pay $78 to visit your doctor?

Would you pay $78 to visit your doctor? The Federal Government’s rebate freeze has resulted in a decline in bulk billing services offered across the country, and Aussies have been warned that the cost of seeing their GP could be on the rise.

Recent statistics from Medicare’s September quarter show that the number of bulk-billed GP services has fallen, from 85.9 per cent in July to 85.4 per cent by September. Across Australia, practices have been giving patients notice that bulk billing will cease, following the Government’s six-year freeze on Medicare rebates at the 2014 level of $37.05.

The Australian Medical Association has recommended that doctors increase their fees for a standard 20 minute consultation to $78, commencing 1 November. This means an out-of-pocket expense of $41 for patients whose doctors don’t offer bulk billing.

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said the Turnbull Government’s health policies were “hurting Australians”. She claimed that the reduction in bulk-billing services evidenced that Turnbull’s promise in the lead-up to his election that no Australian would pay more to visit the doctor was “a complete and utter lie”. 

“Australians are already seeing the impact of his six-year Medicare freeze every time they go to the doctor, with more and more patients having to pay out of their own pocket,” said Ms King.

However, president of the Royal Australian College of GPs Dr Bastian Seidel said that while the decline in the quarterly bulk-billing statistics was clear, more data would be needed to determine whether the decline was a trend.

“Most GPs started looking at their business models after the election and this won’t be reflected in this quarter’s data,” he said.

“The only trend you can see is an increase in out of pocket payments,” he said.

What do you think? Do you pay more to see your doctor? Have your received notice that your GP will cease bulk-billing services?

Read more at news.com.au

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    COMMENTS

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    ray from Bondi
    16th Nov 2016
    10:28am
    privatisation by stealth, that is the libs DNA at work so they can sit back and say "we have nothing to do with it" sure the freezing of the rebate has no consequence.
    Eddy
    16th Nov 2016
    11:46am
    Ray, we know the Libs have been vehemently opposed to medibank/medicare since it was first proposed by the Whitlam Government. Even to the point of forcing a double dissolution and a joint sitting to get it into law. They are canny enough to know that axing medicare outright would be election suicide. I do not think they want to privatise medicare, they want to destroy medicare. They have an ideology that opposes government intervention in the private sector.
    If the Libs eventually get their way and get rid of medicare the health insurance sector will be like the banks, bigger and more profit taking. Since the Commonwealth Bank was privatised in the early 1990s (by a Labour Government no less) the private banks have raised their profits (and fees) exponentially. Do we want that for health Insurance?
    Eddy
    16th Nov 2016
    11:58am
    One other thing I forgot to mention. Have you all noticed that the tax rebate for excessive medical costs has been removed for the last two years at least. Previously any medical expenses totalling over about $2300 attracted a rebate at 20 cent in the dollar. To quote Baldrick 'a cunning plan'.
    As a superannuant who pays tax and has a chronic health condition I regularly exceeded this rebate figure (but no more now I have a DVA Gold Card).
    KSS
    16th Nov 2016
    1:26pm
    Eddy it hasn't been removed entirely but the threshold has been raised and the amount rebated lowered to 10 cents in the dollar. And this is available to anyone not just the aged.
    GeorgeM
    16th Nov 2016
    1:42pm
    What a joke by Labor - crying out about "hurting Australians", when they introduced this foolish freeze. Instead of a freeze, they should have introduced a law to cap maximum fees by greedy doctors to avoid the excessive fees.
    Also, Labor not only did this, also the CBA privatisation, they also did many other things such as raised Pension age for women for ensuring "equality" with men (I think it was that bludger Keating who destroyed many peoples lives with his recession and other policies), then increased Pension Age beyond 65 (Wayne Swan).

    All extra health costs beyond 85% of Scheduled Fees should be payable by Private Health Insurance, however the current Private Health system needs to be "repealed and replaced" as it is a complete fraud on the Australian people (Sussan Ley should task note), as it puts all Risk of high costs & extras on Patients by paying only small amounts of Benefits with huge gaps. Insurance should pay everything (except the 15% gap on Medicare Scheduled Fees).
    KSS
    16th Nov 2016
    1:56pm
    George, with the exception of a trial currently underway in Queensland, private health insurers are not permitted by law to cover GP visits or tests/scans etc resulting from them.
    GeorgeM
    16th Nov 2016
    2:10pm
    KSS, that's why I said "Sussan Ley to take note" - I should have said the Liberals, who support Private Insurance, should change the law to make Private Health Insurance cover all gaps (except the 15% gap on Medicare Scheduled Fees). Also, currently Private HI pays very small benefits - the law is not stopping them from paying more for those services which they can pay for, that's why it is a rip-off.
    Rae
    16th Nov 2016
    3:17pm
    A Universal health system was one of the key planks workers were offered to forgo wage rises and strikes etc in the Accord.

    Seems like workers kept their side of the bargain. Pity about the betrayal now by the LNP.

    And yes the LNP has never favoured public services as they'd rather waste the taxes on multinational contractors than pay Australians to help other Australians.
    MICK
    16th Nov 2016
    3:50pm
    It is privatisation by stealth Ray. Australia no longer has a free medical health system and the bastards in our right wing governments have been trying to destroy it altogether whilst claiming the exact opposite It's a long game for them but the lobsters in the pot (us) need to wake up and not allow them to do this.
    We need a Brexit/Trump moment and this may be coming given that Canberra has become so arrogant and disconnected from average citizens whose lives they have ruined that they do not care and will not listen. If they are kicked out then they will have to listen. I await the day................
    Dave V
    16th Nov 2016
    4:07pm
    Eddie, I don't think the Government wants to destroy Medicare - directly or indirectly. It's just that the reality is that the costs to the Government of funding Medicare and hospital care in Australia are skyrocketing and no one wants to pay for it.
    MICK
    16th Nov 2016
    4:13pm
    If that is your call Dave then please tell me why multinationals STILL do not have to pay tax, why tax cuts are STILL going ahead and why rich people like Turnbull are STILL allowed to have their offshore tax havens and not pay tax in Australia?
    Medicare is expensive but then so is the inability to go to work or the cost to all of us of being a burden for decades rather than a contributor to the society.
    The attacks on Medicare are nothing more than the Class Warfare being conducted by right wing governments wanting to copy the US and give everything to the top 1%.
    Dave V
    16th Nov 2016
    5:23pm
    Hey Mick, sorry, I'm not saying that the cost of public health is not the only thing that has to be addressed. I agree with you that many of those other things need to be pulled into line also. The Government has to also make the big multinationals, and all Australians, pay their fair share of tax in Australia. And I think that Government is burying it's head in the sand over the real level of unemployment and under-employment in Australia. It's just that, from what I've read, the increasing cost of public health is frightening - not to mention all the other costs of education, roads, etc. I don't know if we've got any politicians smart enough or brave enough to try and bring in a coordinated plan to deal with it all.
    KSS
    17th Nov 2016
    7:37am
    Oh Mick do leave off. You (and others) have already made a claim on the tax of multinationals and politicians wages, super and 'perks' to pay for age pensions and other welfare payments. Even if you stripped all the 'wealthy' of all their assets you still wouldn't have enough to keep covering the ever increasing welfare and health bills.
    Not a Bludger
    16th Nov 2016
    11:00am
    Many, many people are already paying $70 to $80 for a standard (and expert) consultation (much less than the callout fee for e.g. a dishwasher or appliance service/repair) and not moaning and groaning or claiming their "inalienable right" to have everything that they want paid for by someone else.
    Trevine
    16th Nov 2016
    11:16am
    How stupid. Do you get experts coming every month to service your appliances? A load of rubbish. What do you know a person who has money. Obviously not.
    rpflemo
    16th Nov 2016
    11:25am
    Medicare, what a laugh. $220 to see a specialist $75 refund and you have to wait 6 months or more for the appointment. $250-$300 for a MRI unless you see a specialist, who you cant get to see, some are booking appointments now for Sept 2017. What hope has a pensioner, no treatment available, guess they just want us to die!!
    Anonymous
    16th Nov 2016
    11:46am
    Yes that correct if you have landed on the pension bad luck
    Rae
    16th Nov 2016
    3:24pm
    The AMA has stuffed up with the quota on doctors and specialists as suddenly we have the population expected by 2050 because the government can't count or organise the population numbers or infrastructure planning.

    They are too busy playing at politics unfortunately.
    KB
    22nd Nov 2016
    5:35pm
    4456.40 to see a specialist who puts you to sleep with limited help from Medicare. With a mixture of Medicare and concession helping I could not afford to wait to have an operation in the public system
    KB
    22nd Nov 2016
    5:35pm
    4456.40 to see a specialist who puts you to sleep with limited help from Medicare. With a mixture of Medicare and concession helping I could not afford to wait to have an operation in the public system
    KB
    22nd Nov 2016
    5:35pm
    4456.40 to see a specialist who puts you to sleep with limited help from Medicare. With a mixture of Medicare and concession helping I could not afford to wait to have an operation in the public system
    Ted Wards
    16th Nov 2016
    11:26am
    Yet another slap in the face to the tax paying community. Our taxes pay for this as well as politician wages and perks. Interestingly enough you never hear politicians freezing their wage or having an 85 cent pay rise.

    Fine stop the rebate except for the people who have already paid for it through their taxes. So many people who have never done a thing for this country are getting so much at the tax payers expense. I already only go the doctors when I absolutely have too.

    How about we bring in a cap for the amount of subsidized doctors visits you have and then after that cap you have to pay. What would happen is those that are visiting the doctors unnecessarily will stop doing so and free up many services for those that really need them. For instance, many people on long term welfare often have very little wrong with them. How do I know? They can go on holidays and do anything they want, but mention health and suddenly they are so ill. I've had people tell me they cant work because of all the medical appointments they must attend.

    The problem is we create this dependency and then turn around and complain about it. We rationalise every other system so why not this one? Because the pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars profit on the back of this so naturally we would never turn around and say ok for the average person probably three subsidised visit is probably more than enough. Those with chronic health issues 12 those with cancer and so on. What will this do? Stop those who needlessly go to the doctors week in and week out and who are only looking for attention get to do this for free while tax payers pay for this. Enough is enough!
    KSS
    17th Nov 2016
    7:31am
    Ted there is already a 'cap' of sorts except it is called a 'safety net'. When you reach that level of extra contribution you are bulk billed from thereon in for the rest of that year. Prescription charges are also included and reduce once the bar has been reached. And it applies to everyone. Not just pensioners.
    floss
    16th Nov 2016
    11:49am
    Can we afford the Libs,perhaps you could if you were a doctor.
    DaveL
    16th Nov 2016
    11:57am
    Maybe the Medi lie, was spot on.
    KSS
    16th Nov 2016
    2:00pm
    Actually the figures show that the numbers of people who do not see a doctor because they can't afford to have gone down. But then you don't really expect that to be reported here do you?

    16th Nov 2016
    12:16pm
    Call Home Doctor Service, they advertise as bulk-billers, ripping off the system (us taxpayers) by flying under the government radar with their high locum fees. Something for Susan Dey to look into.
    Hasbeen
    16th Nov 2016
    12:19pm
    It's about time the suburbanites caught up with country folk, & started paying their own way. Most country towns have very little if any bulk billing, & have never had it.

    Still you have to feel for downtrodden doctors. Ours can only afford one trip back to the UK a year, although that is probably because he is paying for his wife & kids to go twice.

    Wouldn't it be dreadful if they couldn't afford Wednesday afternoon golf, would quite spoil their week I'm sure. Perhaps it's doctors greed rather than government meanness that is causing a problem.

    Time to start getting used to paying some of our own way kiddies, the current deficit growth will mean we will be paying a hell of a lot more of our own way in the not too far distant future. If you want a gentle transformation, rather than a Greek style sudden breakdown of services & welfare, time to back off the demands a little, & thus keep as much as possible, as long as possible.
    Star Trekker
    16th Nov 2016
    1:41pm
    My GP just stopped bulk-billing in July and now charges $20 over the Medicare rebate for pensioners and health care card holders. After 12 paid visits per family (single if your partner &/or children go somewhere else) they bulk-bill. Now my daughter has to pay for GPs & Specialists from her tiny Youth Disability Allowance of $421.50 pf. Not much left to live on.
    Fair Dinkum
    16th Nov 2016
    2:44pm
    I already payed more $75.00 a couple of weeks ago The turnbull government has no idea of our hard this is for the ordinary Australian when they and the there highly paid cohorts make these decisions if they paid the same proportion of there wages for a visit to a dr that the ordinary person has to pay they would be paying about $3 to 4 hundred dollars a visit then they may get a bit of a feel for the ordinary people
    Rae
    16th Nov 2016
    3:03pm
    My doctor has never bulk billed. It has always cost around $40 above medicare to see her so I only go when absolutely necessary.

    My last pap test cost $50 and was not covered by medicare or private health insurance.

    In fact after 47 years of private insurance I've realised hardly anything is ever covered.
    And worst still not covered by medicare nor the health insurers.

    The whole thing is beginning to look like an elaborate scam.

    We would have been better off just saving the $2000 a year equivalent in a special account and letting it compound.

    The LNP/IPA and the AMA have just about ruined a really great health care system. It's a shame.
    Old Man
    16th Nov 2016
    5:33pm
    This is a very difficult subject to comment on because each of us has a different need for medical assistance and it is an area where one size doesn't fit all. Our needs are for a visit every so often to renew a prescription and a once a year full check up. Our doctor bulk bills so we don't have a problem. A mate, with whom I drink, has a chronic illness which, he claims, won't kill him but requires constant monitoring by his medical team. He is still working and has to pay full costs. I think a lot of us will fit in the middle. The politicians are prepared to point the finger and blame each other (and both sides are at fault in this instance) but that's all they do.

    Our football team has recently announced getting a major sponsorship from a well known health care company and this annoys me. My first response is, WHY? Surely health care companies should be using their members' funds to give rebates for those who have a need to visit medical professionals. Ministers of Health over many years have had to sign off on requests from health care companies requests to increase premiums and then they go and waste members' money on sponsorships. If health care companies were to increase their rebate maybe doctors could get by without raising consultation fees.

    The whole health care industry, and that includes the government's role, needs a full professional inquiry to find out exactly who is getting what out of the health dollar. We know the average punter is the one getting it in the neck as we are an easy target. Health care companies blame CPI, governments blame the health care companies and we pay for the blame game.
    Rae
    16th Nov 2016
    6:47pm
    Well said Old Man
    Tiny
    16th Nov 2016
    8:10pm
    All I see now is Doctors that do not Bulk Bill, have empty waiting room areas, when they used to be full. I use Doctors that Bulk Bill in my area there sometimes is a 30 minute wait, but you can wait that time anyway at non Bulk Billing Dr.

    I would rather wait the 30 minutes and be Bulk Billed than pay $78 every visit I and my family make.

    16th Nov 2016
    8:11pm
    reading the comments in these columns I am realy surprised to see how far Australia has fallen and fallen they have, comments the likes of my daughter has to pay $ 20.00 towards a visit to the doctor for 12 visits, , yet in the next sentence he/she admits the yearly cost of these payments $240.00 is way less then receiving the forthnightly pension of $421.50, another post winging about their doctor having a game of golf during the week or going overseas on his holidays, well how far can you fall, I'll ask that contributor when was the last time he/she had to look after the welfare and health of his clients if ever, I got a plumber last week, simple leak, not life or dead principal, I can't climb a ladder anymore, charged me $120.00 for a call out, fixed the problem in 10 minutes and his bill came to $ 180.00 including the 10% pensioner discount, yet here we are objecting to having to pay $5.00 more to see a person who might give us an extra lease of life or what is more important, live to the fullest or and you you can choose a live to exist!
    Yes we have many political subscribers to this forum, however I am only to be pleased to be called a troll by some of them, it only proves my message is getting through
    Star Trekker
    16th Nov 2016
    9:07pm
    That was just the GP, then you add $100 for every Specialist she sees (most are 300kms away) These appointments are every 2 months. Then there is the medication she needs that is not on the PBS. Add in stuff that can only be bought over the counter. All this just to survive.

    I supplement her income as much as I can being her Carer. But now my pension is being stretched to its limit.
    KSS
    17th Nov 2016
    7:26am
    I agree heemskerk99. I have a similar story with an electrician. I needed to have a ceiling fan replaced - not installed just replaced so no new wiring or anything. The cost of the electrician was $175 (no pensioner discount) for the 10 minutes he was there. (This was more than the cost of the $170 fan!). True you don't do these things as often as see the GP but there does need to be some perspective on the issue. GPs are running small businesses which have the same overheads as any other, they employ staff, their continuing education cost thousands a year as does their insurance. None of those things are reducing in cost, yet his income is purely based on the medicare rebate payments. Freeze the medicare payments and the GP effectively gets a pay cut. Asking their patients to make a small contribution to their own health is not unreasonable. We all want the continued advancement of medical science and immediate and universal access to it all (drugs, procedures, equipment etc) to alleviate health conditions and/or keep us alive that bit longer. Consequently demands on the health budget continue to increase year on year yet no-one wants to pay for it.
    Eddy
    17th Nov 2016
    11:33am
    Don't blame the doctors, they are entitled to a reasonable return on their investment in their medical education. Maybe what we need is a bi-partisan approach in Canberra where the whole of parliament can get together along with public submissions and come up with a realistic way of funding health care (medicare, PBS, aged care and NDIS). If the current medicare levy is too low then get bi-partisan support to increase it. Julia got agreement to fund NDIS with a 1/2% increase in the levy so it is not an impossible task only a difficult one. Is'nt that what we pay our MPs and Senators for.
    Old Geezer
    17th Nov 2016
    4:14pm
    It is easy to avoid it. Stay away from GPs.
    KB
    22nd Nov 2016
    5:38pm
    Most of us would if we did not have health problems
    KB
    22nd Nov 2016
    5:38pm
    Most of us would if we did not have health problems
    ray from Bondi
    22nd Nov 2016
    8:15pm
    I wonder how old the old geyser he seems a lib troll to me, it is very few lucky people who do not have medical issues as they become older with what a stupid statement.


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