Patient consultation fees update
With Medicare rebates falling behind costs, we need to charge fees to provide quality care
As has been widely reported in the media, medical centres and doctors around Australia are finding it increasingly difficult to provide quality care by “bulk-billing”, in other words relying on Medicare rebates alone and not charging patients “out of pocket” fees.
Medicare rebates are payments made to you by the federal government to fund the costs of your healthcare. You provide consent for Medicare to make these payments directly to your doctor in order to cover the costs of their service.
It is important to note that doctors do not work for Medicare, nor are they are not salaried employees of medical centre operators like Ochre Health – they are actually private contractors. As such, they rely on the payments made by Medicare and their patients to cover the costs they incur in providing their service. These include their mandatory ongoing training, insurance, annual and sick leave, practice service fees and more.
As is shown in the chart below from the Australian Medical Association, Medicare rebates have not increased in line with inflation or the increasing cost of providing a healthcare service. In fact, they were actually frozen for a number of years. The situation has now reached a point where the average cost of delivering healthcare is more than double the Medicare rebate amount.
This situation has created a financial burden on GPs and medical practices that means most of them are simply not able to continue in business without increasing their consultation fees beyond the Medicare rebate levels.
For us, this means that from 1 July 2022, our doctors will be charging private fees as per the updated fee policy and fee schedule under our FAQs tab.
If you have previously been bulk-billed by your doctor and you do not meet the eligibility criteria for that to continue, you will now be charged either a full fee or a discounted fee for your consultation.
We would like to emphasise that these billing policy decisions have not been taken lightly. Unfortunately, they are necessary for us to be able to continue providing the quality healthcare all of our patients deserve.
If you would like to support your doctor further and take action to ensure our community enjoys access to quality, affordable healthcare into the future, we urge you to write to your Commonwealth Member of Parliament to express your comments or concerns.