Medicare rebates won’t be increasing anytime soon 13



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This morning Health Minister Sussan Ley announced a large scale investigation into Medicare and the effectiveness and value of the whole system. The overhaul will analyse every subsidised test, treatment and procedure to identify inefficiencies in a bid to avoid additional fees paid by the Australian public.

Ms Ley said, “It has come back to me through every single consultation with doctors that the Medicare system is sluggish, bloated and at high risk of long-term chronic problems,”

“Patching it up with band-aids is not a solution”.

And too right she is. The problem with Medicare doesn’t lie in the taxpayer not paying enough for medical services, it’s the red tape and inner processes that are making it a burden.

As part of the review the government will be:

  • reviewing all Medicare-funded procedures, tests and treatments
  • examining new ways to pay GPs providing care for patients with chronic conditions and mental health problems
  • developing new rules to crackdown on Medicare cheats

The good news is that no changes will be made until 2016. The bad news is that this means the value of rebates, that once increased with periodical indexation will remain frozen until the review process is over.

Former Australian Medical Association president, Dr john Hambleton believes the freeze will motivate doctors to contribute to the review process.

He said, “Frankly, what the government’s saying is if we do nothing, there’s no more dollars. So if we can actually show that we can get better use of the current investment in general practice, we can start to look at unwinding some of those things.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that last year, around $20 billion was paid out for more than 350 million Medicare services, making it a very costly program, so reducing the operational costs and making the system more efficient is incredibly valuable.

So tell us, are you happy to see medical rebates frozen for another year or so if that means no GP co-payment? Is that an appropriate trade off and do you appreciate the government trying to avoid that cost? Share your thoughts in the comments below… 

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  1. John Blackwell, assuming your question is genuine, Wikipedia says, “Ley was born in Kano, Nigeria to English parents. Her family migrated to Australia when she was 13. She was educated at La Trobe University, the University of New South Wales and Charles Sturt University, and has masters degrees in taxation and accountancy.

    When Ley was 19 she enrolled in flight school and gained her commercial pilot’s licence when she was 20. She has been a waitress, cleaner, air traffic controller and commercial pilot, and later a farmer and shearer’s cook. She met her future husband while aerial stock-mustering in south-west Queensland. They settled on her husband’s family farm in north-east Victoria, and have three children. Ley was Director of Technical Training at the Australian Taxation Office in Albury from 1995 to 2001 before entering politics.”

    So she appears not to be the usual party hack(ette). She has some actual life experience, rather than the Uni, student politics, researcher on MP’s staff, union lawyer, union field officer, parachuted into Senate or safe lower house seat sort of career path we so often see especially on the Labor side, but there are similar careers on the Coalition side. Personally, I like to see pollies who have got their hands dirty making their own money before I happily(?) let them loose on the taxpayers’ monies.

  2. They are sure right the system is bloated. How many times have most of us been sent for a test to see if you really need the test you needed in the first place. Just to try and save money and in the end spending a lot more money that was not necessary to get the right results in the first place. Having two or more test when only one would have done the job.
    You may as well say that your doctor does not know they are doing. Anything medical cost a lot and they should look at the inefficiency’s within medicare itself. Where ever you go the medical people are run off their feet and a lot of it is because medicare requires it therefore wasting your time and our money. In my view a lot of it is just to justify their job within medicare.

  3. It worries me that they’ll waste more money on the review.

  4. this morning I went for an MRI on knee referred by GP.after paying I asked if they sent it off to Medicare for rebate———–sorry,no longer a rebate for MRI if referred by a GP only if referred by a specialist in the particular field of what is being scanned.
    Told that there are now lots of things for which no rebate will be paid.

  5. I agree it needs an overhaul but why can the keep rebates at the same level when every bill issued to us by the government goes up every year, and the cost of prescriptions goes up every January along with the amount we have to spend before we hit the safety net threshold.

  6. Since when has it been indexed? It was intended to keep in line with cost of living and never did.

  7. Medicare doesn’t cover everything If Drs don’t bulk bill patients end up paying a gap.Even if you go for an X-ray or have bloods taken there is a fee.I feel there should be a review of tests or X-rays done for chronic diseases .Why send a patient with a chronic lung condition for multiple X-rays & tests when they have been told there is nothing that can be done.There are a lot of procedures that Drs are paid for that could be done and are done by nurses.Look at reducing payments for Drs giving injections Doing aged care checks Diabetic checks ect.We can no longer support the health system it is not free.

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