Patients will pay more to see a doctor, Medicare rebate frozen until June 2020

Wednesday 4 May 2016
The AMA is highly critical of the Federal Government’s decision to freeze the Medicare rebate until June 2020, as patients will pay more to see a doctor.
"Freezing the Medicare rebate means that patients will have higher medical expenses. It will cost you more to see a GP, surgeon, obstetrician or psychiatrist," Dr Tony Bartone, President of AMA Victoria, said this morning.
"The Medicare rebate is meant to provide patients with assistance towards their medical costs. For example, if a patient pays $80 to see a GP, they will get $37.05 back from the Government. This is their Medicare rebate. The 2016/17 Budget has frozen patients' rebate until June 2020, but we all know that medical costs won’t stay the same; patients' out-of-pocket medical expenses will increase.
"Medical fees can't stay the same for 6 years. These fees cover staff wages (i.e. practice nurses, receptionists), rent, medical equipment, medical supplies, cleaning, electricity, computers, insurance. None of these bills are frozen. The Treasurer understands inflation, yet ignores it when it comes to the Medicare rebate.
"The Medicare rebate has already been frozen for several years, which has led to some patients delaying seeking medical treatment. This Budget decision will make it worse. Patients who are unable to pay these increased medical costs will have no option but to go to an  Emergency Department.
"In particular, this freeze undermines the importance of general practice and is a backwards step for preventative healthcare." Dr Bartone said.
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What the Budget says
Medicare Benefits Schedule — pause indexation
The Government will achieve efficiencies of $925.3 million over two years from 1 July 2018 by extending the pause on indexation of Medicare Benefits Schedule fees for all services provided by general practitioners, medical specialists, allied health and other health practitioners until 30 June 2020.
The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to fund Health policy priorities.
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