GPs call for political focus on rising patient out-of-pocket costs

12 February, 2018

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has offered political leaders a solution to the increasing out-of-pocket costs plaguing Australian patients.

The RACGP proposal to lower the Extended Medicare Safety Net threshold was presented to all sides of politics in 2017 in an effort to ensure healthcare remain accessible for all Australians.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said he was disappointed neither party had acted upon the solution that will improve access to health for all patients.

“Australians pay some of the highest out-of-pocket costs in the world. Even worse, out-of-pocket costs are on the rise – a trend that cannot continue,” Dr Seidel said.

“All Australians deserve equal access to high quality healthcare, and patients should never be discouraged from seeking the healthcare they need due to cost.”

Dr Seidel said lowering the Extended Medicare Safety Net threshold for concession cardholders, children, veterans, and older Australians was an opportunity for all sides of the Australian Parliament to come together and advance the future of our healthcare system.

“Lowering the threshold for individuals and families would both deliver on the promise to strengthen Medicare for those who need it most, and send a strong message of support and commitment to the health of all Australians,” Dr Seidel said.

The RACGP has proposed the threshold for the Extended Medicare Safety Net for concession cardholders, veterans, the elderly, and children under 16 be lowered from $656.30 to $500.

“With these measures, people who can least afford high out-of-pocket costs can continue to access services through a strengthened Extended Medicare Safety Net,” Dr Seidel said.

“The time for talk is over and it is time Australia’s political leaders start to deliver health policy that would keep all Australians healthy and out of hospitals.

“Our communities deserve action and real leadership. Health should not be a political battleground.”