Bulk-billing is the term used when the medical practitioner bills Medicare directly, accepting the Medicare benefit as full payment for a service. If your practitioner bulk-bills, your appointment won’t cost you anything and you’ll be saved the hassle of claiming back benefits.
What and who gets bulk-billed?
Along with GP attendances, optometry and pathology are the Medicare services where you’re most likely to benefit from bulk-billing. The bulk-billing rates of specialist services, on the other hand, are comparatively low.
Medicare offers GPs financial incentives to bulk bill:
- Children under 16 – $5.15 extra from Medicare every time they bulk bill.
- Commonwealth Concession Card holders – $5.15 extra.
- People living in country areas and Tasmania – $7.85 extra.
So if you fit into any of these categories, you’re more likely to be bulk-billed.
If your doctor charges privately you’ll need to pay their fee up front, and claim the rebate (currently $31.45) for a standard consultation lasting less than 20 minutes) back from Medicare. And if your doctor doesn’t bulk-bill you, chances are they’re charging above the schedule fee and you’ll be out of pocket.
Finding a bulk-billing GP
- Unfortunately it’s not possible to get a list of all the bulk-billing GPs in your area. The only way to find out is to ring or drop in to the practice and ask.
- If you're financially constrained, let your doctor know. GPs that charge private fees may at their own discretion choose to bulk bill some patients according to their individual circumstances.
Scans and X-rays
If you’re having an x-ray, ultrasound or some other kind of diagnostic imaging outside hospital, you’ll only receive Medicare benefits if it’s done at a site that has practice registration.
Registered diagnostic imaging and radiation oncology practice sites have a location-specific practice number (LSPN) that needs to be quoted on patient accounts/receipts for you to receive a Medicare benefit for these services. More likely than not, your doctor will refer you to a registered practice, but it’s worth checking.
To find your nearest registered practice location