Many people are concerned about the rising costs of living. One of those costs can be the cost of medical care. Often, but not always, cost and value align (so something that costs more is worth more and is of higher quality, and vice versa).
General Practice in Australia is both efficient and excellent with nearly 90% of Australians seeing a GP at least once a year and this delivering world leading outcomes at a good price. Still, the Medicare Rebate for patients has not kept up with the rising costs of providing medical care and running a medical practice and so out of pocket costs have gone up for patients.
Patients Medicare rebates are set by politicians, an increasing number of whom are lawyers. Lawyers often point to pro bono services they provide for the poor and disadvantaged and here we come to the first thing you probably didn’t know:
“Pro bono” comes from the Latin phrase “pro bono publico” which means “for the public good”. In the legal context it generally means the provision of legal services on a free or significantly reduced fee basis.
Now for the second thing you probably didn’t know:
Almost every GP in Australia is providing pro bono work on a daily basis when they bulk bill patients.
The patients Medicare rebate, which a GP accepts as full payment for professional services if bulk billing, is less than half the recommended professional fee for most GP services.
An election is coming. Let your politician know that your health shouldn’t depend on pro bono work from your GP.
It’s your Medicare Rebate.
You deserve better.
You know it. Make them know it too.
Contact them below
One thought on “2 things you probably didn’t know about Pro Bono work and PartridgeGP”
Let me explain but it will be a long post.
1. Medicare is like an private health insurance provider. In this case Medicare is the insurance provider for all citizens. Like private health insurance companies when you use your dental benefits they only cover a certain amount (usually a pittance) and that is why you have to pay a gap to the dentist even with private cover. This is the same with Medicare. the rebate you get back for a GP consultation is a pittance hence the gaps.
2. The blame lies with the federal government. If the medicare rebate given to you went up with inflation alone from the time of its inception the rebate you would get would be around $80. It is currently $38. It is less than half what it should be. Think about this. Imagine if your wages did not even go up with inflation every year and as a result all bills go up but you wage is less than half what it should be. It is not sustainable in the long term. As a result it is almost impossible to bulk bill because if you do then you have to push 5 minute medicine which becomes a rush, conditions can be missed etc.
3. The bills for the GP continue to mount with time as the wage stays the same. The receptionists’ wages, practice managers, utility bills, equipment, rent etc does not stay stagnant like the medicare rebates. They go up every year with inflation. Indemnity insurance also goes up every year. So if a GP sees, lets say, 5000 patients per year He will make less and less money for seeing those people with every passing year as his expenses go up.
4. The government puffs its chest out and says that it will build up more hospitals to reduce waiting times and improve services. Meanwhile they continue to ignore primary care. Does anyone know the cost of a patient being seen in emergency for any condition? By the time the receptionist sees you, the triage nurse. sees you, the nurse inside sees you, the junior doctor sees you who then runs your case by the senior doctor, the investigations that may need to be done – the cost of 1 patient (assuming nothing major is needed) is around $700 per patient. If the government put up your medicare rebate up to see your GP, there would be more bulk billing, more people seeing their GP, less people in the Emergency Dept and a massive amount of money saved for the government.
Now this makes sense to the majority of people, so you might ask why is it that the government does not implement this? Well the answer is that a politician saying “we are going to increase the medicare rebate for GP’s” does not win them anywhere near as many votes as saying “we are going to build X number of new hospitals”.
The onus is one everyone of us to raise this with our local members, to. shift the way thinking is done by the politicians and that there is a pretty easy way to increase medicare rebates to enable bulk billing all the while reducing the cost to health care.