Should doctors be allowed to choose how much we pay? 35



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Just a few months after the much derided GP co-payment scheme was ruled out, the Australian Medical Association has suggested an alternative to the government’s “ill-thought-out” policy.

The AMA submission to the review of Medicare is pushing for a different kind of added payment, one that would be at each doctor’s discretion. The association insists this would be a more fair system.

According to the submission, the payment scheme would do away with having to pay for the cost of the Medicare rebate upfront, which is then reimbursed. Instead, the GP would bill the government directly.

The GP would then be allowed, at his or her discretion, to charge a “gap fee” on top of the Medicare rebate, which would go directly to the surgery.

A spokesman for the AMA told The New Daily, this would eliminate the need for doctors to “take a hit” to help out poorer patients.

“If you’re a person without the means – you have a couple of kids and ready cash flow problems – your credit card may be maxed out. There could be a whole host of reasons that having to pay upfront is difficult,” said Dr Bryan Morton.

“If it was someone who lived day-to-day who didn’t qualify for any concessions, then they might only be asked to pay $5 out of their pocket. And that’s affordable and fair,” Dr Morton said.

The AMA says that the result of this reformed payment plan would be that many patients would be paying less than they are now, while others would pay more where in the past they had paid nothing.

“People who can afford to pay can pay a small amount according to their means and the GPs can judge that,” said Dr Morton.

Health Minister Sussan Ley has ruled out any changes to Medicare until at least 2016.

Tell us, do you think doctors should be allowed to choose who pays a “gap fee” and who doesn’t? Would this be a more fair system than the doomed co-payment scheme?


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  1. I don’t know. Your health is the most important part of your life. Doctors need to be paid, but to add extra for some, which goes to the surgery, what exactly does that mean? Do the doctors get it, does it stay in the business to help make it a better business? Where exactly does it go?

  2. All GPs in my regional city charge pensioners gap fee of $15+ & specialists $200+ & old now can’t afford health care #auspol

  3. I’m not sure I would agree with this, I’m on a FULL PENSION however over the past 2 years I have had to have three lots of major surgery and because I have PRIVATE HEALTH I’m sure that the doctors who have done these surgeries are of the belief if you can afford Private Health you can also afford to pay their fees, this resulted in me having to FIND AND PAY over $4000.00 out of pocket costs for those surgeries. Due to on going health issues I can’t afford not to have PRIVATE HEALTH but I can’t afford to pay out of pocket costs like that.

    2 REPLY
    • Nothing has changed, my husband got sick age 32, in 1972, He was told by his Govt employers go to Super DisabilityPension, a pittance at that age. Over the next 40 odd years he had so many back & other ops, always out of pocket many thousands , some years it was $20k .I took on office cleaning at night ,as well as my office job ,to pay bills, BUT I believe in best healthcare and I am willing to pay, too many now don’t belong to Private as they did in old days, My parents paid from 1940 till 2009 & used it 5 times ,

    • I had a bad run in 2010 and spent 4 months in hospital. I had an out of pocket gap of $34,000, most of which was for scans and MRIs in a private hospital. Oh and the surgeon charged $8,000 more than the scheduled fee. On discharge I was told to get an out patient scan which would cost $1,200. I got it where I live and was bulk-billed! Someone is ripping off the system!

  4. The doctors already charge what they want n the patient pays the gap. It would be unfair for 2 people to have exactly the same treatment and pay different amounts depending on their financial situation.

  5. What a lot of tosh. This happens now. When I go to the doctor because my husband is still working I am charged $75.00. The surgery process my medicare card and I pay the balance on my card.

  6. Where are these doctors who charge a $5 out of pocket payment? The consensus of people I talk to pay about $70 per consultation and get about $32 rebate so we are making a co-payment of $30+. The AMA is on another cloud to suggest people would pay $5 co-payment.

    2 REPLY
    • i am out of pocket about $70 for a visit. hes my “real doctor” who i see yearly and for anything important. i go to a bulk bill occasionally if needed in between as i cant really afford that sort of money too often so if visits were only $5 for all doctors that would be great

  7. Sounds like old proposal has just been jumbled up and reworded.

  8. Don’t they do that already? They mainly charge well over the scheduled fee, and charges when you go into hospital are even higher.

  9. My GP varies depending on what is done in the visit and the length of the visit I will either get bulk billed or I will pay a fee which has approximately a $20 gap payment.

    My skin man bulk bills but the annual check is usually a bulk bill for $80 to $90.

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