Consumables: an open wound for GPs
Dr Richard Kidd, Chair AMA Council of General Practice, writes in the latest edition of Australian Medicine about the ongoing dilemma faced by GPs and general practices in not being able to recoup the costs for consumables, such as bandages/dressings for treating chronic wounds. The AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, recently wrote to the Health Minister asking for the Government to consider extending the same arrangements that apply to vaccines to consumables.
The dilemma arises when, in providing wound care, typically for elderly patients with chronic wounds, the GP is restricted from raising a charge for the consumable if they wish to bulk bill the patient. Under the Health Insurance Act where a service is bulk billed, the practitioner agrees to accept the patient’s Medicare rebate as full payment for the service. A study conducted in 2011 showed that GPs and practices were incurring losses on wound care. In the context of inadequate Medicare rebates and the current indexation freeze the cost impact for practices is not trivial.