New Medicare data shows a record amount of Australian patients are seeing their doctor without paying a cent, with the bulk-billing rate increasing to 85.8 per cent in the first half of the 2017–18 financial year.
According to the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health, this is the highest GP bulk-billing rate on record for the July to December period and nearly 4 per cent higher than Labor’s 81.9 per cent, achieved when they were last in Government.
In a statement, the Minister’s office wrote that more than 65.9 million bulk billed GP visits were provided to patients over this time period, an extra 3.1 million services compared to last year.
The total cost of all Medicare services during the six month period was AU$11.6 billion, with the bulk-billing rate for all services increasing in every state and territory.
Medicare funding is to increase every year from $23 billion in 2017-18, to $24 billion, to $26 billion to $28 billion in 2020-21.
The Minister’s office said despite more Australians benefiting from record bulk-billing figures than ever before, the Turnbull Government would continue to drive down the cost of private health insurance and address out-of-pocket costs.
The Government is doing this by working with the medical profession to address large and sometimes unanticipated out-of-pocket medical fees some patients face.
A new expert committee chaired by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, will investigate out-of-pocket costs and options to ensure consumers are better informed of fees before agreeing to treatment.