Patients and Mackay GPs like Dr John McIntosh won’t be smiling when the Medicare rebate cut takes effect from Monday.
Patients and Mackay GPs like Dr John McIntosh won’t be smiling when the Medicare rebate cut takes effect from Monday. Peter Holt

Patients to be slugged an extra $20 to see doctor

MANY Mackay region patients will be slugged an extra $20 to see their GP for visits less than 10 minutes from Monday.

The Federal Government quietly made changes to Medicare legislation before Christmas.

From January 19, Medicare will cut by $20.10 the rebate to patients (who are non-concessional) for consultations to GPs lasting just 10 minutes or less.

Previously, Medicare paid $37.05 to help cover the cost of these short visits. It will now pay just $16.95.

Mackay resident Kevin Baker does not receive any concession and has an ongoing medical condition that requires him to frequently visit his GP.

"That's going to make it much harder. The $16.95 rebate is very poor," he said. "The price of scripts has gone up so for a trip to the doctor I'm looking at $120."

The AMA warns the change will cause doctors to stop bulk-billing for shorter consultations because the payment would not meet their costs.

Representatives say that consultations could be stretched to meet the 10-minute threshold for a rebate of $37.05 (the payment for 10 to 20-minute consultations) but that could mean doctors would see fewer patients daily.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, in Mackay yesterday, said he would be meeting with the AMA to discuss the issue.

"We see our bulk-billing under massive attack," he said.

"In Australia the quality of your healthcare shouldn't depend upon your credit card, it should depend upon having a Medicare card."

Mackay Superclinic's GP Dr John McIntosh agreed, saying the $16.95 rebate was "an insult".

"It's a bit like reducing Medicare fees by stealth."

Dr McIntosh said the problem would be compounded in July when a $5 cut to all Medicare rebates applies to non-concessional patients. They will receive a rebate of $11.95.

How much would you pay to see a doctor for a 10 minute consultation?

This poll ended on 21 January 2015.

Current Results

Nothing, it should be bulk-billed

64%

$10-20

15%

$20-40

11%

$40-60

4%

I don't mind how I pay as long as they help me

5%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


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