Should we have to pay to go to the doctor because the Government won’t listen?

The Australian Medical Association has called for the Coalition Government to axe the Medicare rebate freeze, saying the nation’s GPs

The Australian Medical Association has called for the Coalition Government to axe the Medicare rebate freeze, saying the nation’s GPs are at “breaking point”.

Currently, GPs who bulk bill their patients are charging to the Medicare schedule of fees, and are directly reimbursed by the Government. Whereas those doctors who don’t bulk bill are entitled to set their own fees for services and patients pay for the treatment and receive a rebate from Medicare.

Often there is a gap between what you pay for the services of your health professional and the refund you get from Medicare (e.g. $37 when you visit your doctor) and this is called your ‘out of pocket’ expense.

The Medicare Benefits Schedule fees are raised in accordance with a Wage Cost Index, but since the Medicare rebate freeze has been in place the actual costs affecting medical practitioners are not being met adequately.

When Labor introduced the freeze in 2013 it was intended as a temporary measure, but by extending the freeze — until June 2020 — the Coalition was able to make a further $925 million to budget savings.

AMA national president Dr Michael Gannon says the freeze is “bad policy”.

“What I would say is that bulk billed GP services represent amazing value for money,” Dr Gannon says. “[We’re] talking about professional people who have had nine to 12 years of training and their time, intellect, expertise and training is surely worth $40 a throw.”

The Government initially proposed a co-payment of $7, but this was emphatically rejected in 2014 because it would put a wedge between those who could afford it and those who would be unable to see a doctor should they need to because they could not afford the payment.

Dr Gannon also criticised the Labor Party’s pre-election scare campaign around Medicare agreeing it was “diabolically bad”.

“The rebate freeze and the inferiority of the Coalition incentives for bulk billing of pathology and radiology gave fertile ground for the scare campaign,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It only took hold because people genuinely feared their access to basic healthcare might have been threatened.

While the AMA acknowledges the important of bringing the budget back into surplus, general practice should not be the first consideration when it comes to health sector savings.

“It [general practice] remains cheap compared to hospital medicine and it is cost effective in terms of its focus on prevention. It would be good policy and good politics [to drop the rebate freeze extension],” Dr Gannon says.

How do you feel about the current cost of going to visit your GP? Are you concerned about the impact the Medicare rebate freeze is having on fees?


  1. margaret mcnickle  

    I don’t feel good about this as I have cancer

  2. Tricia Blackhall  

    I am 73 and have some serious health issues. My doctor has bulk billed me for a long time, but now people under 75 will have to pay the gap. I am a pensioner, so this stand by the government is concerning.

  3. Well if people did not take notice before the election they will now, $5 for each blood the more tubes they fill more it will cost us, having a scan or a simple xray keep some money in your pocket. I am going to get my GP to fill out request forms to have things done at our local hospital.

    • [email protected]  

      Very good idea Peter. I could not afford to buy food if I have to pay for X-rays, Blood tests ( I am on warfarin and have checks very regular)
      I did take notice did not vote for either party. So dishonest and greedy to take money from the ones that cannot afford it and give more to the rich. What about reducing the salaries of the pollies from the increase they just got now lowest is $151,000 per year. Also STOP ALL RETIRED POLLIES PENSIONS AND PERKS. Why are they entitled to these?

  4. Cynthia Murray  

    I was happy with the Co=payment, I am a pensioner, still paying a mortgage but would have preferred to set aside $5 per fortnight for the co-payment which was to be to a maximum of $70 per annum. It was not to be introduced for 12 months , hence in the 12 months one would accumulate $120, $70 outlaid for visits in the first twelve months, hence have $50 available for the next twelve months plus the $120 to be accumulated in that 12 months. SIMPLE.

    Give up a Beer, a packet of cigarettes or perhaps a coffee……not really such an effort.

    • [email protected]  

      I certainly do not agree with you Cynthia, I had to stop work due to serious illness 3-1/2yrs ago, not by choice and was put on Disability and now Pension. I have to rent at $600 per f/n so I have less then $400 to live on plus pay for electricity, car insurance, car rego, repairs etc, why should we pay to see the Doctor and more for Blood Tests, X-rays.
      I cannot save any just to cover expenses now.
      I don’t drink, smoke or buy coffee anywhere I go home to have this.

  5. Neville Cox  

    It looks like we now have a society that expects the government to provide welfare to everyone. Then the people complain about having to pay more taxes to cover the massive welfare budget. How about we pay for what we use instead of wanting something for nothing all the time!

  6. Roy Bridges  

    Doctors do ok don’t need more, work it out $37 only see you for 10min or get you to come back for double charge. They get $220 a hour 9 hours a day $1980 a day by 5days $9900 a week by 48 weeks $475,000 not to bad.
    Even with overheads most share cost of rent ,staff etc so even if you half the above still being payed $200,000 a year yep should get a rise need more.??

  7. I have two chronic diseases which require me seeing a GP monthly. Because I have to see the same Dr every time it costs me $72 each time. On top of that I have specialist visits 3/4 times per year @ $120- $156. I also have scans,X-rays & ultrasounds which cost a fortune. Then there is the cost of medications. We reach the $1500 threshold for meds in the beginning of May each year. At least then our scripts are down to the concession rate. I worry that my GP will put up his fees because he is not paid a better allowance from Medicare. I am unable to work. My husband earns just over the limit to be able to get a concession card. It is tough having illnesses that you are stuck with for life.

  8. [email protected]  

    Yes to both, about visiting a Doctor, won’t go anymore. Yes, as now pensioners and low income will not go to a hospital, doctor, blood tests, or anything as they cannot afford to do so. I am one of those. I pay $600 p/f rent so not much left. Why should we pensioners live in poverty.

  9. [email protected]  

    I knew they would not listen especially the LNP. They live like Kings whilst the vulnerable live in poverty.
    The LNP prefer to give to the rich and take from the poor.

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