Health · August 5, 2022

Mass settlements are “unsustainable” in a livelihood crisis.

Doctors have warned Australia’s bulk billing system is unsustainable as overworked doctors are forced to bill patients for appointments amid rising demand.

GP practices nationwide have informed patients of their intention to move away from bulk billing patients, which is no longer sustainable given rising costs and a shortage of doctors.

The gap between a family doctor’s fee and the Medicare reimbursement paid to practices has more than tripled in the last 10 years, leaving many family doctors with no choice but to charge fees.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to increase the pressure on families on a day-to-day basis, the average out-of-pocket costs for GPs have risen by 50 percent over the past decade.

Healthcare costs are rising faster than wages, but 85 per cent of Australians see their GP at least once a year if not more often, especially during the pandemic.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) recommended fee of about US$86 and the standard Medicare doctor visit discount of US$39.10 have increased by US$13.50 over a decade to stand at about US$47 -Dollar.

With fees rising, GPs have no choice but to expedite appointments and limit time with each patient to try to squeeze more in to increase billing.

The AMA has supported a move away from mass billing and reduced doctors’ reliance on the government for income.

The 2021 report by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners shows that one in five GPs in clinics deal with bulk billing, while 64 per cent of GPs reported bulk billing for most of their patients.

Australian Society of General Practice President Chris Irwin told The Australian that up to 60 per cent of general practices currently offering bulk billing are trying to introduce fees.

“That’s all that’s talked about in general medicine,” said Dr. irwin

“It’s extremely difficult for GPs because they just want to serve the community and… protect the most vulnerable. But we’re getting to the point that if nothing changes, there will literally be no family doctor’s practice in 10 years.”

The doctor shortage in the country is so bad that traveling family doctors are being offered up to $3,500 a day to work in regional areas across the country.

The Australian Taxation Office has revealed that GPs earn significantly less than other medical professionals and often take home half of what specialist doctors pay.

Originally released as a mass reckoning “unsustainable” in a livelihood crisis