Patient charges rising fast
Patient out-of-pocket costs have surged and are now growing at their fastest pace in four years as general practices react to the financial squeeze from frozen Medicare rebates and rising running costs, according to an article in Australian Medicine this week.
The article explains that while the Federal Government has highlighted official figures showing the proportion of GP services being bulk billed is 85.1 per cent, the statistics also show that those patients that are being charged a fee for GP services are paying more. Average out-of-pocket costs reached $34.24 last financial year, up 6.5 per cent from 2014-15 - the fastest pace of growth since 2011-12 and well above the rate of inflation.
The increase in patient charges follows warnings from AMA President Dr Michael Gannon that many general practices were “now at breaking point” because of the Medicare rebate freeze, cuts to incentive payments and reduced mental health funding.