Somebody call a doctor! Medicare faces major surgery
Free visits to the GP could soon be a thing of the past for most people, after the Health Minister Peter Dutton last week proposed a radical overhaul of Australia’s health system.
In a hardline speech in Brisbane, Dutton described the current system as “riddled with inefficiency and waste”, saying he wanted to “modernise and strengthen Medicare”.
The upshot? You could soon be paying more for your healthcare.
Among the changes being considered by the Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit is a new $6 co-payment for bulk-billed GP visits. Patients getting X-rays and other medical tests could also be slugged with new fees.
“I want to make sure that, for argument’s sake, we have a discussion about [people] on reasonable incomes, whether we should expect to pay nothing when we go to see the doctor,” Dutton told ABC TV.
Labor and health groups have slammed the co-payment proposal, warning it would unfairly disadvantage the poorest and sickest in the community, without generating significant savings. Some argued new GP fees could push more people into hospital emergency wards.
More than 80 per cent of visits to the GP, 87 per cent of pathology tests and 73 per cent of X-rays are currently bulk-billed, which means the patient pays nothing, News Limited reports.
The Commission of Audit’s report is currently with the Treasurer and is expected to inform the May federal budget.
How would a new GP co-payment affect you? Should GP visits and X-rays be means-tested? Are your out-of-pocket medical expenses already too high?