Medicare has faced cuts for a number of years now, leaving many older Australians scrambling to find a new GP as many practices move towards private billing. But it seems that the program is finally gaining back some lost ground through a new initiative from the government.
The MyMedicare program began its rollout across the country at the start of the month. Registration for the program is free and voluntary and it is set to provide a host of benefits for older Australians. The program aims to formalise the relationship between patients and the GP practice that they regularly attend.
Participation in the program gives the GPs additional funding and allows patients to access additional bulk-billed services. At the moment registration allows patients to access longer Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) funded telehealth consultations with their GP.
From November 1st, further subsidies will be provided to telehealth appointments for pensioners and concession card holders. In 2024, the program will be further expanded.
From August 2024, the program will fund regular in-person visits from GPs and better care planning for seniors living in aged care. Around the same time, the program will also fund better GP care for seniors who frequently visit hospitals for chronic health conditions.
Registration for #MyMedicare is now open!
If you have a valid #Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Veteran Card & have had two or more appointments with the same practice in the last 24 months, you are eligible. More at 💻 https://t.co/fJX9QiEKwq or talk to your GP. pic.twitter.com/YsWcLBuRZr
— Australian Department of Health and Aged Care (@healthgovau) October 4, 2023
In order to register, the selected GP practice must first be registered to participate and give their consent to provide care under the program. Patients must hold a Medicare Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Veteran Card to be eligible.
Patients must also have had one face-to-face appointment with a GP in a remote location or two appointments with a GP in a non-remote location in the past 24 months. Residents of aged care homes are exempt from these requirements.
Afterward, the patient can either register online through Medicare Online or the Express Plus Medicare Mobile app. The patient can also ask their GP practice to start the process online, which will prompt the patient to fill out their registration form. Alternatively, a physical registration form can be filled out at the practice and the staff will enter the registration details in themselves.
The program does not tie patients to a particular GP at the practice and they can change their preferred practice at any time. They can still access other GPs if necessary.
Around 2,600 practices have registered with MyMedicare, almost 40 per cent of the total GP practices around Australia, with more and more joining every week.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler was very positive about the program and its potential.
“MyMedicare is open to everyone and entirely voluntary. The benefits of this system-wide reform will grow over time, as more patients and providers join,” he said.
“MyMedicare is the foundation to deliver more tailored care to patients through a range of funding packages to better serve the needs of patients that fall through the cracks of the current system.
“Patients registered for MyMedicare will gain a stronger relationship with their healthcare teams and more consistent care, including longer telehealth consultations.
“MyMedicare will improve health outcomes and help keep patients healthy and out of hospital.”