Rising costs force medical practices to scrap bulk billing
Posted On May 3, 2022
Some medical practices have been forced to make changes to their bulk billing services, with some stopping free consultations due to rising operational costs.
With the cost of living continuing to rise, impacting interest rates, grocery costs and petrol, saving money on medical bills is crucial for families relying on regular health care.
Brisbane man Trevor Parmenter said he requires doctor’s appointments most weeks, adding he and his wife are both bulk billed.
“Extremely important as we are both on the pension,” he said.
“Definitely would suffer without it.”
Another patient, Debbie Clark, said the service was crucial.
“It’s an imperative service and we really need it across the board for all families,” she said.
Bulk billing allows Aussies to access some GP appointments cost-free, with the Medicare rebate covering the cost of the appointment.
Fifteen-minute appointments with a GP typically cost around $39, however doctors say it should be $80 to account for rising costs.
Many doctors have abandoned bulk billing until this change is made.
The director of Caboolture GP Superclinic, David Hooper, said the practice has adapted to reflect the changing climate.
“We’ve aimed to bulk bill predominantly, in recent times we’ve started to move away from that a little bit into mixed billing,” he said.
He added further cuts to bulk billing could have wider implications and prevent some Australians from accessing health care.
“Rather than going to see their GP when they need to when they’re crook, they’ll end up in the emergency department or sitting in an ambulance ramping,” Mr Hooper said.
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HotDoc, an online GP booking service, is allowing patients to search exclusively for bulk-billing clinics by suburb and in surrounding areas to reduce the cost of healthcare.
Charles Beaton from HotDoc said the number of people seeking Medicare-covered services has increased.
“We’ve seen the number of people searching for bulk billing practices increasing,” he said.