Blood tests and x-rays to cost us from next year… and you mightn’t like why

Many Australians, and not just the critically ill, need x-rays and blood tests every now and then, but the government

Many Australians, and not just the critically ill, need x-rays and blood tests every now and then, but the government has shown that these vital services are not on their list of priorities.

According to Health Minister Sussan Ley’s latest announcement, there will be budget cuts to pathology and radiology so the government can fund four new treatments that will help mainly recovering drug addicts and prisoners.

This means we could soon pay $20 for a blood test and up to $173 in new charges for X-rays and other scans to fund a $1 billion new treatment for hepatitis C.

“This demonstrates that the government is prepared to make the tough decisions to prioritise where we should put our health dollar in Australia,” she said in Canberra.

However Labor, the Greens and some cross benchers have said they will oppose $650 million in cuts to pathology tests and X-rays in the Senate.

“It’s an absurd proposition to make cancer patients, and people with diabetes and other serious health conditions pay for the drugs needed by other seriously ill patients,” Ms Ley said.

Now the pathology industry is warning patients that a blood test could cost a gap of $20 because the government is ending an incentive for bulk billing in July next year.

X-rays could cost the patient up to $56 out of pocket, with an ultrasound costing up to $101, and an MRI $173.

Around 9 out of 10 pathology tests and 7 out of 10 scans are bulk billed, reports the Daily Telegraph.

So why is Hepatitis C so important to the government? About 230,000 Australians suffer from the disease, with 8 in 10 contracting it as a result of unsafe injecting practises.

Right now cures for hepatitis C cost up to $100,000 per person but as a result of the money generated from proposed government cuts, the price will fall to $6.10 for pensioners and those on welfare and $37.70 for general consumers.

Despite the connection to prisoners and drug addicts, Ms Ley defended the cuts by saying, “People don’t get hepatitis C because it is their own fault,” she said.

“It is a disease that is seen in every walk of life in Australia from high rise office blocks in our major cities, the captains of industry so to speak, to the homeless person in the street bear where we live,” she said.

“We don’t want to make judgments about people’s lifestyle choices and we’re not doing that is this case.

“No questions will be asked. In order to eliminate hep C within a generation, which is our intention, we do need to treat everyone and that does include the prison population,” she said.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Brian Owler said, “They shouldn’t be using patients to justify these funding cuts,” he said.

“I don’t think there is a place for moral debate in health policy. As doctors we treat everyone, it’s not about having a debate about more deserving citizens than others”.

Tell us, do you feel it’s fair that we are going to pay for these services?



  1. Good on the ALP and the Greens and Senate for opposing it, many won’t be able to afford to get these tests and will just go undiagnosed, it will end up costing the country more

    • this is what it says in the article Victoria … However Labor, the Greens and some cross benchers have said they will oppose $650 million in cuts to pathology tests and X-rays in the Senate.

    • So then Rosalind and others, if it doesn’t pass the Senate that means those with hepatitis are being discriminated against because they don’t get assistance from government. At least this way all are getting something. As if often said here and other places, it cost a lot for health care, someone has to give something so others might benefit.

      As is the Labor way, don’t worry about how much it costs or where the funds will come from the government will pay – but from where.

      Increase the GST would help – but Labor are against that as well.

      Yeah good on Labor – no idea, no plan.

      • John Brants  

        Lead the way Mr. Hawes. You sound intrepid.

    • By way the way Noel Hawes the treatment for HepC is NOT conditional on the those cuts Australians with Hepatitis C will no longer have to spend up to $100,000 on a course of treatment, after the Federal Government announced $1 billion in funding to subsidise the cost of four so-called “miracle treatments”.
      The treatments cure the virus in 90 percent of patients in a short course between eight and 12 weeks.


    • Noel Hawes meanwhile, LNP keep spending money bombing and killing on another continent. Real good use of money which could be used here. Great plan LNP.

    • It does have to go through the senate, but as we’ve seen befor the Liberals can usually find a way to do things via the back door. eg, cutting the rebate to doctors so they pass their loss onto the patient

  2. Why bother with euthanizing us, they can just kill us all the slow way. This will affect many low income Australians as well as Self funded retiree’s.

  3. Question will be of course whether doctors will prescribe those tests knowing that pensioners or people on low income can’t afford to pay!

  4. I hope it doesn’t get through the senate. I am not sure how pathology will be charged as the article mentions $20. Often when getting blood tested for an illness blood is spread over several different containers and multiple tests are carried out. Is it $20 for each test or $20 on each occasion. If costs are too high people may choose not to get tests done and end up worse off and requiring much more expensive treatment in the end.

  5. Perhaps doctors will now have to actually justify the tests they order instead of just the old MBA – multiple biochemical analysis.

    • and if people can’t afford to pay for those tests , it will cost the country a whole lot more , disease will go undiagnosed untill they reach the hospitalization stage

    • A lot of diseases and conditions are extremely hard to diagnose without a lot of testing. Sometimes the answer comes quickly others take extreme detective work to pin down. Sometimes, as happened with me once after months of extreme pain, you can get better before the cause of illness is discovered. Among those hard to find conditions are some cancers.

    • They already have made changes to the MBA – now it has to be organ specific! Result 2-3 blood tests instead of one. All you sure you want the MBA stopped?

    • The mba is a group of 25 tests. Not one. It is a bit of everything whether you have symptoms or not. Worked in pathology for 35 years.

  6. I have cancer and have regular blood testing and X-ray scans. I would object to paying additional fees for these services. Why the hell should I pay extra to fund drug addicts and criminals in jail who chose to stick themselves with dirty needles!

  7. Equivalent of 4 or 5 coffees but people don’t stop drinking coffee because it costs money!

    • expensive coffee where you live, no wonder you vote Liberal !!! and up to $173 in new charges for X-rays

    • The trouble is you can go for the X-ray, then need another type of scan, then need surgery with associated pathology. I would hate to think how much more expensive my ankle surgery would have been had I had so much more to pay for all these other services. Plus there were X-rays after surgery to see how the ankle was healing.

    • Barbara Cox. many cannot even afford a cup of coffee, we have many low paid workers in this country

    • A coffee has now become a luxury to have as an occasional treat, pathology and X-rays are life savers not luxuries. Get real!

    • Ok. I get your point but people don’t think of their health. Go into any shopping centre and see what some put in their trolleys!

    • It would have been partially solved with $6 copayment to the Dr. similar to the copayment for the chemist. Then the large bills wouldn’t have been an option. We can’t outspend our income forever.

    • Specifically, blood tests can help doctors: Evaluate how well organs—such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid, and heart—are working. Diagnose diseases and conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, anemia (uh-NEE-me-eh), and coronary heart disease.

    • Thank god water is sort of free, otherwise the poor buggers would die, that’s a bit unfair Barbara Cox.

  8. Susie key is a idiot , someone with so little brain matter should never be allowed to comment let alone make decisions for others , especially on their health . IV drug users don’t get hep C through their own fault ? Are you serious ? Get out of politics you idiot .
    Let the elderly, the hard workers etc , pay for criminals and drug
    users to get free health care . Please are you really that stupid ?

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