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Major changes made to bulk billing across Australia

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The Federal Government is imploring GPs across the country to offer bulk billing at their practices, tripling the incentive paid to doctors who bulk bill certain patients in an effort to provide greater access to healthcare for our nation’s most vulnerable. 

Pensioners, Commonwealth concession card holders, and certain individuals under the age of 16 will benefit most from the change and will now (hopefully) be able to access consultations with their local GP for free, instead of paying an out-of-pocket expense that averages at $41 nationwide. 

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Announcing the news as part of the Federal Budget 2023 – 2024, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the tripling of the incentive to GPs would benefit approximately 11 million people, almost half of which being children. 

Health Minister Mark Butler went on to describe the change as “the largest increase to the bulk billing incentive in the 40-year history of Medicare.”

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GPs around the country have long held concerns over the rising costs of patient care, with Medicare barely reimbursing enough to cover expenses. The amount Medicare refunds GPs for bulk-billed services has remained largely the same for the past decade.

This has forced many practices to scrap bulk-billing altogether – impacting loyal patients who have seen the same doctor for years.

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Whilst medicare in theory provides universal healthcare to all Australians, a lack of bulk billing makes this easier said than done. (Credit: Getty)

In late 2022 Federal Health Minister Mark Butler described the state of Australia’s primary care as “in its worst shape since Medicare began.”

There is hope, however, the triple incentives offset the cost for high-risk patients and GPs alike who the federal government is hoping will feel more inclined to return to bulk billing vulnerable Aussies in need of healthcare. 

The incentive change will kick into effect from November 1st. 

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