Due to rising inflation rates, it may become harder for you to access free medical services, as more and more GPs are getting rid of bulk billing from their practices. This could have a detrimental impact on patients as they will be less inclined to seek medical help, due to the costs of seeing their local GP.
What is bulk billing?
Bulk billing means that you don't pay for the service you received from a medical professional. The medical practice instead bills the government service, Medicare, while the medical practice accepts the Medicare benefit as full payment. Depending on how many appointments you have and the type of services you receive, you may not be bulk billed for all of it. But bulk billing does cover services such as visits to the GP, tests and scans like x-rays and pathology tests, and eye tests by optometrists.
What does this mean?
Due to limited funding, increasing inflation rates and staff shortages, some GPs are having to stop bulk billing patients or are turning to a mixed billing payment method in order to stay afloat. With the inflation rate reaching 6.1%, the 1.6% increase in Medicare rebate isn’t enough to get by. Doctors expect the national bulk-billing rate may plunge to as little as 30 per cent within two years. While medical groups believe this figure to be around 60 per cent and on a rapid decline. If there's no funding for Medicare, then the bulk billing system may crash and patients will have to continue to pay out of their own pockets, meaning medical services will be more expensive. This in turn will be a barrier for those who struggle to access adequate health care services.
You can find medical professionals who bulk bill through Health Direct's 'Find a health service' tool, linked here. If you need support or just someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.
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All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.