The Australian Medicare system is a universal health insurance.
Let’s figure out what universal health insurance means.
Universal refers to the fact that every Australian citizen, permanent resident and some other visa holder has a right to the Medicare rebate.
Every time you see a doctor, the Australian Government allocate you some money to pay medical fees. This is called the Medicare rebate.
You choose what doctor to see. Let’s say the doctor sees you for a standard consultation. The Government gives you $39.95 to pay the doctor.
If the doctor bulk bills you, you pass your rebate directly to the doctor without paying anything out of pocket.
If a doctor charges you a private fee, say $90, you get your rebate directly to your bank account. We say – you were $50.05 “out of pocket”.
What is important is to understand that the rebate is your rebate, not the doctor’s rebate.
It is between you and the Government what rebate you are entitled to. The government decides what rebate you receive every time you see a doctor.
Why do more and more doctors bill privately?
As we learned from the material above, the Medicare rebate is what the Government is happy to give you as compensation for medical fees.
Doctors have many expenses to pay to provide you with quality service.
Often, the Medicare rebate is not enough to cover those costs.
In the last 14 years, Medicare rebates have grown by just 15%. The cost of running the practice grew by an astonishing 200%.
The Government refuses to pay you as a patient the rebate that covers the costs of the medical services. In that case, the doctors have no choice but to charge you a private fee.
In other words, the Government forces the doctors to pass on the rising costs of running the practice to you.
Your Medicare rebate is not rising, not the doctor’s fees.
Can you, as a citizen, do anything about it? Yes, you can.
First, learn how the system works. Don’t let the Government fool you with pretty words like Medicare reform, strengthening Medicare or Medicare overhaul. The truth is very simple. The Government doesn’t want to increase YOUR Medicare rebate. The Government is saving money by forcing you to pay private fees.
Secondly, talk to your local member of the Parliament. Let them know that you know how the system works.
Thirdly, speak to your friends, colleagues, and parents in the schoolyard if you are one of them. The more people are aware, the more pressure is on the Government to stop pushing you to pay higher medical fees.