Ongoing Medicare rebate freeze sends a shiver through patients and medical practices

2 Jul 2015

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said this week that the ongoing indexation freeze of Medicare patient rebates is placing further pressure on the viability of many medical practices, especially general practices, and forcing patients to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for their health care.

While the Medicare rebate indexation remains at zero, the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) is at 1.3 per cent, the Wage Price Index (WPI) is at 2.3 per cent, and the ABS reports an increase in Hospital and Medical Costs of 6.5 per cent.

“The rebate indexation freeze is a co-payment by stealth, and it is currently planned to continue until 1 July 2018. The freeze is delivering savings of $1.3 billion over four years to the Government. This funding shortfall has to be met by patients and practices,” Professor Owler said. 

“While the rebates have remained unchanged, the costs of providing quality medical services continue to rise. Practice costs such as wages for practice staff, rent, electricity, technology, and insurance are increasing every year. Medical practices cannot absorb these increasing costs for four years in a row and remain viable,” Professor Owler added.

The AMA will continue lobbying the Government to lift the Medicare rebate freeze as early as possible.

Full media release.