The cost of a visit to the doctors is set to increase once again, following recommendations by Australian Medical Association (AMA).
A charge of $102 is the recommendation and comes as the AMA says the cost of running a practice has rapidly increased.
It is also the third recommended cost increase this year. In March, prices rose to $90 and were increased again in July to $98. The latest increase also sees the Medicare rebate go up by only 20c, meaning patients will now have to pay a gap fee of $60.60.
There can be little doubt that yet another increase will put disadvantaged people further at risk. As far back as December last year, a Consumer Policy Research Centre study in Victoria found that almost one in five people were skipping everything from medical appointments to meals as financial strains grew.
Bulk billing for pensioners, welfare recipients and children is set to increase from November 1st, the federal government announced earlier this year, but a petition for general bulk billing currently open on the government website says this doesn’t go far enough.
“The alterations to the rebate have not been enough for GPs to continue to provide services without charging cash up front,” the petitioner wrote.
“Since 2013 inflation has been about 25% and the increase for the Medicare Benefits rebate has been close to zero.
“We therefore ask the House to increase the Medicare Benefits rebate by an amount that would allow GPs to bulk bill everyone and to legislate that GPs must bulk bill for all.”
Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege, and if such large numbers of people were already reporting being unable to afford a doctors visit before the latest cost increases then perhaps a revisit of the current system is long overdue.