Medicare News

With the commencement of a new financial year, commonly claimed items under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) have indexed. The indexation percentage is around 1.5 percent, which is lower than the consumer price index over the past two years at an average of 2 percent. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomes the lifting of the five-year Medicare freeze as announced in the 2017-18 Federal budget but states the indexation does not reflect the value of general practice.
Australian Medicare card and money.

The RACGP also claim that insufficient Medicare rebates are forcing doctors to turn away complex patients who need longer appointments, particularly those doctors working in practices where patients expect to be bulk-billed. Instead doctors are seeing more patients more frequently in order to compensate for the four-year Medicare rebate freeze.

The RACGP would like to see an increase of 18.5 percent on Medicare rebates to bring GPs into line with other medical specialists, stating that investment in primary care and preventative general practice healthcare reduces overall health care costs. Over 85 percent of Australians visit their GP each year for preventative health care services. In order to manage complex patients who require lengthy consultations, the RACGP would like to see a new payment introduced of $163 for consultations lasting an hour or more. Longer consultations are likely to benefit patients with mental health conditions and older patients with multiple chronic diseases.

The request for the 18.5 percent increase in the Medicare rebate has been referred to the Medicare Benefits Schedule taskforce.

Government warns public about Medicare scam

This week the Australian Government has warned the public about a sophisticated Medicare scam in which people are being sent emails which encourages them to update their bank account details via a link. The link sends user to a cloned myGov website. The myGov website is a platform where registered users can also link government services via one login and password. The URL to the duplicated website is similar to that of the official myGov website. The Australian public is being warned to be wary of emails not addressed to them personally and that Medicare does not send links within emails.

In order to combat increasingly sophisticated scams, from October this year volunteer welfare recipients will take part in pilot biometric security programs whereby they will be able to set up facial recognition identity to access their services and payments.