As of 1 July 2022, the doctors will no longer be automatically bulk billing patients with a healthcare or pension card. We are introducing a concession rate to allow us to continue providing the best possible healthcare while also recognising that there are those in our community that are experiencing financial hardship.
We are aware that some patients have the need for frequent medical consultations, and that there is a wide range of people who are holders of healthcare cards. We want to keep looking after all our patients and do not want to discourage your attendance.
If you have financial concerns about paying the concession consultation fee or really can’t afford any gap at all, please discuss this with your doctor or flag it with reception over the phone. This ensures any discussion is held in a confidential environment.
How to pay and how to claim your rebate
Payments can be made by cash or debit/credit card at the end of your consultation. We submit your claim to Medicare at the same time. If you have a Debit Card, the MBS rebate will be paid instantly into your bank account by Medicare. In practice this means that your out-of-pocket expense will be the total expense incurred. (see also separate post about Medicare Safety Nets)
|Service Description||Fee||Medicare Rebate||Out of Pocket|
|PRIVATE Standard Consultation||$88||$39.70||$48.30|
|CONCESSION Standard Consultation||$65||$39.70||$25.30|
Please note that the fee for a consultation will depend on the duration and complexity of issues covered and is determined by the Doctor. Other fees will apply for Mental Health Plans, procedures, etc. Your doctor can advise you of these costs and the rebates that apply.
What you can do to manage this change
- Ensure that your bank account details are up to date with Medicare. You can do this on the Medicare Express Plus app or ask our staff for the form to send to Medicare.
- Let Medicare know about family members who you would like to be counted towards your Extended Medicare Safety Net. Your rebates will increase once your annual out-of-pocket costs reach a certain threshold, reducing your healthcare costs for the rest of the calendar year.
- Talk to your doctor about the number of regular appointments you might need and your financial situation.
What is the Medicare rebate?
Medicare rebates are paid to patients by the Government as a subsidy towards their health care. Many healthcare providers charge a private fee which is higher than the Medicare rebate, so that the patient pays the full fee and claims the rebate back from Medicare.
“Bulk-billing” means that the patient assigns their Medicare rebate to the doctor who accepts that amount as full payment for the service.
Why is this change happening?
Since it’s inception, Medicare rebates have not kept pace with any other economic markers, such as the Consumer Price Index. Medicare rebates are usually indexed annually but in 2013 they were frozen for a total or 5 years. In 2019 the freeze was lifted, but the annual indexation since then has been around 1.6-1.8% , which is less than the CPI and Wage Price index over that time. This equates to an annual increase of about 65cents for a standard consultation. The Medicare rebate for general practice consultations is now less than 50% of the AMA recommended rate for health care.
Over the same period, the costs of running a practice have gone up significantly, as for other small businesses. These include staff, rent, IT, utilities, insurances and equipment, all of which have increased by higher rates over the years.
We have absorbed those cost increases for many years. It is not possible to operate a medical practice on Medicare “bulk billing” alone without seeing patients at a much quicker rate , known in the healthcare industry as “6 minute medicine”. Private billing allows us to continue to provide the quality and standard of care we think everyone deserves.