The co-payment is coming back. Australians will have to pay more for a visit to the GP or specialist. The freeze on your Medicare rebate means you will get less back from Medicare. It is expected that many practices will stop bulk billing. Join the ‘You’ve been targeted’ campaign and let your local member know that you oppose the freeze on your Medicare rebates.
The Federal Government is reducing its investment in your healthcare by freezing your Medicare rebates. This means your Medicare rebates will remain the same until 1 July 2020, despite the cost of delivering healthcare services increasing (see graph below).
The freeze is a co-payment by stealth and the Government has implemented this measure to reduce the amount it spends on all Medicare subsidised services, including general practice services.
Your health is important. Please do not let the freeze on your Medicare rebates stop you from seeking the healthcare you need.
What can you do?
Join the ‘You’ve been targeted’ campaign which aims to lift the freeze on your Medicare rebates. Go to the website of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP): yourgp.racgp.org.au/targeted to access campaign materials including a template letter you can send to your local political candidates demanding the freeze be lifted.
Indexation of MBS patient rebates should keep pace with the costs associated with providing quality health services and employing highly trained and skilled staff, while supporting patient access to services. This illogical decision further demonstrates the government’s continuous disinvestment in general practice.
How will the freeze affect you & your GP practice?
- The MBS rebate freeze will affect all practices, GPs and patients
- The cost of providing services will continue to increase while MBS rebates remain frozen
- Practices where most services are privately billed will need to meet those costs through increasing out-of-pocket payments
- Practices where a large proportion or all services are bulk billed will be significantly affected. The rebate freeze will have a detrimental impact on the viability of the practice. These practices may need to consider introducing or increasing out-of-pocket expenses to ensure the sustainability of the practice
- The impacts will be magnified for GPs and practices providing patient services in lower socio-economic areas, where a majority of patients are from vulnerable groups (such as pensioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people on very low incomes). Many people in these areas cannot afford to meet out-of-pocket costs for care
- Unable to absorb the reduced rebate over time, some general practices will have no option other than to close, leaving the most vulnerable groups unable to access care.
The next government
Doctors call on the newly elected government to invest in quality and sustainable general practice and strengthen patient services by:
- Immediately reinstating annual indexation of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) patient rebates
- Introducing MBS patient rebates for non face-to-face services (for example, video consultations)
- Committing to properly fund quality and comprehensive general practice through implementation of the patient centred medical home.
Follow me on Twitter: @EdwinKruys. Disclaimer and disclosure notice.
Sources: Text and images courtesy of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)