This used to be simple. Go to the Medical Centre with no appointment, walk in, wait… Then off to the pharmacy next door, get the meds and then go to the Club for lunch. Only at the pharmacy did any money change hands.
Not any more.
I had the sense to phone yesterday as these days walk-ins are not always able to see someone then and there — except for emergencies obviously. I managed an appointment for today but not until 3.30 pm. And that was for “any doctor” rather than Dr Nguyen, my regular one, as I just need scripts. Mind you I should be doing more but that will have to wait.
But folks, things are changing:
Another Wollongong practice offers more information, and this will no doubt be parallel to my medical centre:
Changes to Bulk Billing
Medicare rebates are payments to patients to assist in the cost of health care.
Unfortunately, Medicare Rebates have not kept pace with inflation
Medicare Rebates do not reflect the cost of delivering high quality general practice services.
The cost of operating a medical practice rises on average by 4.8% per year.
Medicare Rebates rose on average by 1.9% per year between 2007 and 2010.
Rebates were then FROZEN between 2011 and 2014.
Between 2018 and now they have risen on average just 1.4% per year.
This significant shortfall is now severely affecting the viability of General Practices, including their ability to maintain their premises, update their equipment and systems, and train and retain their staff.
As a result of this longstanding Government inaction on Medicare Rebates, many practices have stopped bulk billing, and the Doctors practicing from the Illawarra Family Medical Centre will be significantly reducing their rate of bulk billing.
From 1st November 2022, many patients (including health care card holders and pensioners) who have been bulk billed will be required to pay a fee at the time of their consultation.
The practice can transmit your claim to Medicare following payment, and the rebate will paid directly into your bank accounts.
This has been a difficult decision for us, and we understand you may have concerns, which you may also discuss with your Doctor.
Please contact the Health Minister or your local MP and request they lobby for meaningful increases in Medicare Rebates so that healthcare can remain affordable.
Check this news item from two months ago:
And see this from 12 August 2022: Why is my doctor no longer bulk billing and is Medicare in crisis?
If you recently received an email or text from your GP clinic saying they can no longer routinely bulk bill even concession cardholders, you’re not alone.
As Guardian Australia revealed this year, policy experts believe the high rates of bulk billing reported by the previous government were artificially inflated by noncompliant billing practices, and the statistics don’t reflect the number of people saying it is hard, or even impossible, to find a bulk-billing doctor.
The federal health minister, Mark Butler, acknowledged the difficulty in finding a bulk-billing doctor, saying, “Primary care is in its worst shape since Medicare began.” …
Six years ago
I may add to this post later today, after I have seen the doctor.
So on the way I called in to City Diggers.
Walking to the Medical Centre afterwards I saw some activity on the Church Street/Mall intersection.
The year has just flown by!
Dr C was friendly. The blood pressure was acceptable. The meds were renewed.
And I was bulk billed.