10 tips to stay healthy on a cruise

  1. Travel Insurance

  2. Vaccines

  3. Healthy Eating

  4. Healthy Drinking

  5. Exercise

  6. Read

  7. Good Company

  8. Wash your Hands

  9. Did I mention the Eating?

  10. Enjoy yourself!



Full disclosure : 2 time cruise attendee – still working off the extra weight



You can see any of our Great GPs right here:

Dr Gareth Boucher

Dr Penny Massy-Westropp

Dr Monika Moy

Dr Katherine Astill

Dr Nick Mouktaroudis

Dr Nick Tellis

Co-payments, and why they’re not always appropriate

If ‘one size’ truly fit everyone, we could all hang up our stethoscopes, go home, and let Dr Google see the patients! If a co-payment is inevitable (and I’m yet to be convinced it is), I think the onus is on us, as medical professionals, to make the system work for our patients. I envisage regular patients – concessional, aged, people with chronic diseases – spending time with their GP under the chronic disease item numbers (no co-payment), and with the practice nurse (no co-payment), getting better, co-ordinated care. I think the radiology and pathology companies will absorb the co-payment and just not charge it – for basic testing. This will hopefully decrease the ordering of unjustified tests – the ‘everything’ blood test and CT lumbar spine come to mind. I’ve spoken to a few doctors, and the ‘threat’ of a co-payment to our patients has really incentivised us to think ‘outside the box’ as to how we can continue to care for them – some really good ideas have come up. I’d really like to work on these ideas!

GPs and the Budget 2014

Dr Nick Tellis – my personal view on Budget 2014.

Joe Hockey must be wishing he could see a GP right now. Stressed? Tired? Not feeling your best? From a quick glance at the media this week, online and off, the Budget seems to have upset almost everyone. What does it mean for GPs? It seems that there will be a co-payment of $7, applied to a Medicare rebate fee $5 less than the current $36.30 (for a level B consult). If the co-payment is applied, it will mean $2 extra to the GP, $7 extra from the patient (all patients, not just those formerly bulk billed), and will attract a ‘Low Gap Incentive’ for the GP (probably equal to the current 10990 or 10991 bulk billing incentive – but it’s, like many of the details, unclear). If it isn’t, it’ll be no change to the formerly bulk billed patient, but $5-$14.10 less for the GP (as the bulk billing incentive/’Low Gap Incentive’) will not apply. For those on concession cards or under 16, the co-payment will be capped at 10 services ($70/year).

$70 a year. It’s not very much, but obviously the Government thinks it will be, and patients think it will be, enough to dissuade people from seeking medical care. Others have debated this in detail – talking about patients ceasing their medications (as they apparently did in 2005 when the PBS co-pay went up), presenting to emergency departments instead, and avoiding medical care altogether. I’d like to take a different look at things.

All free services are undervalued. That’s just the way things are. If you get something for free, you don’t appreciate it’s value. Plastic bags, the tragedy of the commons, public toilets…putting a price on things increases their perceived and real value. No GP will raise their hand and say they haven’t seen some patients for bulk billed appointments that were completely unnecessary. The snotty nose, the monthly benzodiazepine prescription, the authority prescription, the specialist referral letter, the hospital referral letter, the squeezed in child (because they’re here, doctor)…all costing other people money. There is no community support for the removal of the ridiculous PBS authority line because the patients do not bear the cost.

So this is the beginning of price signals for a large cohort of patients. In theory, I think this is good – people need to know there is a cost to services, they need to value what they get, and they cannot have endless access to other people’s money. In reality, there will be a lot of churn – where money is taken from taxpayers, cycled through paid public servants, doled out to welfare recipients, and then back to doctors. There will be logistical problems – it was previously illegal to bulk bill with a gap, how do I know how many services the patient has had? There will be people who miss out on medical care or medications. It will happen.

But think about this.

Is it right that some citizens should have an unchecked ability to spend other people’s money?

Should someone on the poverty line ($503.71 per week) be paying tax to subsidize a free visit to the GP for a person earning $150000/yr?

The co-payment does NOT apply to Chronic Disease Items. You can see your GP, if you have a chronic disease, 9 times a year, with 5 visits to the nurse, and 5 visits to allied health, all under Medicare, with NO co-payments (721, 723, 732 x 6, 10997 x 5, 2517, allied health 5 visits).

There are NO co-payments on Mental Health item numbers (2713, 2712, 2715).

It will now become cheaper for the patient to demand quality time from their GP rather than the mythical ‘everything tests’ of CTs for back pain and blood tests for everything else (I suspect the pathology labs will absorb the co-payment costs to be honest).

We shall see. It won’t change the way I practice – my private patients will still get a gap, and those I feel the need to discount my fee for will still be discounted. If they can’t pay $7, so be it. It may be that the Senate shoots the whole thing down in flames anyway… I look forward to your comments – fire away!