01.Bulk billing co-payment slated for budget
Bulk billing won’t be as sweet a deal at the doctor’s office if the government’s plan to impose a $6 patient co-payment goes ahead.
The measure is expected to be slotted into the Federal budget in May in order to reduce Medicare costs. Patients will be liable for the co-payment for up to 12 visits a year, for a total possible outlay of $72.
Medicare costs have reportedly jumped from about $8 billion to $18 billion over the past decade as Australians have visited their GP more often. The government has said the scheme is unsustainable in its current form.
With bulk-billing, the medical practitioner currently bills Medicare directly and accepts the Medicare benefit as full payment for a service. If your practitioner bulk-bills, your appointment won’t currently cost you anything and you can avoid the hassle of claiming back benefits.
Otherwise you’ll have to pay the doctor’s fee up front and claim the rebate back from Medicare. CHOICE opposed the new $6 fee in our submission to the Treasury ahead of this year's budget.
A recent report published by the Bureau of Health Information found that 15% of patients in NSW said they would skip a consultation or medication due to cost.
The proposed new $6 bulk-billing co-payment has been predicted to save the government $750 million over four years.