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!

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