Are you ready to start paying for your bulk-billed GP?

Remember Abbott’s smart idea last year to charge everyone a co-payment for their GP? Well that didn’t last, but it

Remember Abbott’s smart idea last year to charge everyone a co-payment for their GP? Well that didn’t last, but it seems the seed was planted and now GPs are considering the measure again, this time without legislation around it.

SMH reports more GPs could start charging patients a co-payment following the Turnbull government’s decision to extend its freeze on Medicare rebates.

Tuesday’s Federal Budget revealed Medicare rebates would remain the same for all GP, medical specialist and allied health services until June 2020, saving about $925.3 million between 2018 and 2020.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president, Dr Frank Jones, told Fairfax Media it “will make running a quality practice extremely difficult with the probability you will have to charge a small fee which may deter certain patients (who) may present later unwell and require hospital services”.

It seems strange that all of a sudden GPs are considering co-payments when bulk-billing has long been just that: bulk-billed. Until recently, GPs have absorbed costs of high bulk-billing but now they blame the older generation.

Dr Jones said the practices were increasingly treating complex chronic conditions of the ageing population.

“If you bulk-bill (patients), you are going to be out of pocket. Are you going to cut your hours? Staff? We have overheads like every other small business,” Dr Jones said.

Dr Brian Owler, President of the Australian Medical Association, said that not increasing the rebate for doctors was not viable for the long term, especially with the cost of equipment and staff rising each year, and those affected most will be the poorest and sickest patients.

“The only way that GPs can maintain their services, can maintain the quality of the care that they provide, is to start to charge patients…bulk-billing rates are going to of course fall”.


It’s definitely an interesting topic. What are your thoughts? Is it understandable?

  1. Kath  

    gov need to increase the rebate given to Drs who bulk bill pensioners. Pensioners who need regular medical care can not afford any out of pocket expenses. Some pensioners will neglect their health by not consulting their D,r leading to more serious things

  2. Kate  

    Some pensioners go just for a chat

    • elena  

      You are right, Kate, then doctors have to make up time and they are rushing when seen real patients. Everything which is virtually “free” is abused because the stupidity of some people.

  3. elena  

    Yes, it is the only TA´s proposed policy in which I had agreed 100%!!! I would prefer to pay a small fee and be seen by a doctor who treat individuals as “individuals” I´m not happy with a B. billing setting because it seems that because we are not charged we are not getting the proper attention we need. They have to rush a see lots of people to be able to keep the “business” going. I have experienced that some doctors suggest to see a pharmacist or…a podiatrist, for example, for not life threatening complains….it has happen to me!!!

    • Jude Power  

      No decent doctor would reduce the quality of treatment because of bulk billing. A much bigger problem is the enormous gap between what greedy specialists charge and the medicare rebate. Some will bulk bill if you ask, but reluctantly and as if they’re doing you a huge favour in not charging their full exorbitant fee to someone on benefits. The only alternative to seeing them privately is to go on waiting lists at public hospitals, which is not really feasible for say, heart conditions which need to be checked regularly. One cardiologist told me that he felt he wasn’t respected by patients if they didn’t have to pay him something over and above the rebate!!!! I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from telling him that I didn’t respect greedy specialists who DO charge the extra amount!

  4. Well i guess it had to happen its so wrong the medicare rebate to Drs is held back until 2020 but i am sure who ever is in government will find a way to keep it going for much longer.I worries me the pay per service for pathology will a service be each test the dr puts on the request form ? it wont take much to run a $25 to $35 or more.

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