Medicare rebate freeze hurting our region: Save Medicare report

Urgently raising the Medicare rebate is one of the key findings from the Save Medicare report, which details Central Victorians’ experiences with health care.

The report, released today, is the culmination of eight hearings held across the electorate late last year attended by local health care users and professionals, and a survey.

The Medicare rebate freeze has seen the amount health care professionals receive from Medicare for appointments remain frozen until 2020.

At the hearings, GPs said the freeze was having a severe impact on the viability of their businesses, burn out of staff, reduced appointment times and higher fees for patients.

Lisa Chesters MP said the Government urgently needed to increase the Medicare rebate to GPs.

“We heard that the Medicare rebate freeze is forcing doctor surgeries to either go under, or increase fees. Less and less places in the electorate are bulk billing.

“People rely on bulk billing to get care they need. Without bulk billing, many of the people who attended the hearing say that they simply cannot afford to get the health care that they need.

“People in Bendigo are particularly vulnerable to the government’s Medicare rebate freeze, with up to 40 per cent of survey respondents saying they are delaying or avoiding seeing the doctor because of the spiralling cost.

“Malcolm Turnbull needs to reverse these attacks on Medicare which is seeing bulk billing drop and forcing residents in the Bendigo electorate pay more.”

Other key findings from the report:

- 87 per cent of people believed that cost of health care had gone up in the last 12 months
- 40 per cent said they had delayed seeing a doctor because of price.
- The average out of pocket cost for patients from a sample of 23 Bendigo GP clinics was $21.
- Out of the 23, only four bulk billed for non-concessions and 11 bulk billed for concessions.