Changes to Medicare proposed by the government have not gone down well with general practitioners across Australia.
Despite the the plan's aim to strengthen Medicare to ensure it is sustainable over the coming years, alterations to bulk billing and the subsequent increases in co-payments has left many doctors in a state of dismay.
One of the biggest points of contention is the fact that consultations which last under 10 minutes would see a reduced rebate. Australian Medical Association (AMA) national president Brian Owler helped explain the viewpoint of general practitioners.
"Up until now, the consultation fee has been based on the complexity of the consultation. Level A consultations were a simple matter, while a level B required a history exam and a diagnosis and a treatment, usually. Now they've moved to a time-based system," Dr Owler explained to 666 ABC Canberra Breakfast.
The original government plan to introduce a $7 co-payment was originally scrapped, with the latest proposal trying to find a way to make up the subsequent $3.5 billion shortfall over the next four years.
Ultimately, the government have decided that the cuts will now hit GPs harder, and it will be down to each individual doctor as to whether they wish to pass on any cost increases to their patients.
Dr Owler went onto outline how the shift to processes which make time – and not the quality of the treatment – a commodity could soon pose a number of issues. "Even if [general practitioners] can do [what needs to be done] in eight or nine minutes, now they're going to have to stretch it out, which means it's a very inefficient way of seeing patients," Dr Owler explained.
Doctors across Australia are now actively lobbying to the government, in efforts to get the policy overturned before it comes into full effect. As reported by the Guardian, public rallies in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra could all take place in early February.
The government maintains that the aim of any of its plans is not to reduce the quality of healthcare across Australia. However – in the opinion of the adequately placed doctors – it appears that that promise could well be broken.
With the uproar surrounding Medicare and the potential disruption posed by this latest proposal, there is no better time to consider private health insurance. The right policy can help you gain treatment in private hospitals – away from the public system – if need be.
To talk all of the available policies through with impartial experts, call HICA on 1300 44 22 01.