It will soon cost more to see a GP, with doctors set to raise their recommended fees for a standard visit to $78 from the 1November 2016.

As rural doctors met in Canberra this week for the Rural Medicine Australia annual conference, the AMA’s recommended increase in GP fees puts a further burden on rural Australia – which has a 33 per cent higher incidence of respiratory disease as well as a marked increase in cardiovascular disease and diabetes, yet a lower proportion of people visiting their local doctor.

The increase puts more pressure on GPs to abandon bulk billing and add a patient co-payment, which would have a disastrous impact on people already struggling in remote communities.

An immediate end to the Medicare rebate freeze, which has been called for by both the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and Rural Doctors Association of Australia, would relieve much of the pressure.

“It is estimated that only two thirds of patients are bulk billed, but we don’t know the real trends because the Government has refused to release the figures”, Mr Zappia said.
Given that the Government has frozen the Medicare rebate until 2020, the new doctors’ fees will mean that from the 1st November, anyone who is not bulk billed will pay even more to see their GP.

“Either way more people can expect additional costs to see their GP, contradicting the Prime Minister’s solemn pre-election promise that no Australian will pay more to see the doctor as a result of his ongoing Medicare freeze,” Mr Zappia said.

“People with chronic disease and people in rural and remote Australia, who already face higher health costs, will be particularly hard hit because of the Turnbull Government’s attack on Medicare.”