New evidence showing increased patient out of pocket costs: RACGP

13 September, 2016

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has re-activated and re-energized its campaign against the Federal Government’s Medicare rebate freeze with new evidence showing patient out of pocket costs are increasing.

Out of pocket costs for patients visiting a GP have increased by 6% in the last year and by 89% over the last 10 years.

The increased costs are a direct consequence of the fact that indexation of Medicare patient rebates for general practice have not kept pace with the ability to provide quality service.

Although the RACGP is overall supportive of the Medicare review, the media focus seems inequitable and inappropriately focused on general practice.

RACGP President Dr Frank R Jones said GPs are deeply troubled by the recent chain of events to the point that a group of concerned GPs have independently created an emotive #justagp hash-tag generating a massive following on social media.

"Their messages unequivocally make the case to recognize and appropriately award general practice as the key to better health outcomes with cost-efficiencies.

"The RACGP recognises that every government in the developed world is having difficulty in coming to terms with the fiscal ramifications and implications of a changed health demography, but without an adequately funded GP system, our whole system of care is under threat.

"I believe the politicians are hearing our message: it really is time to engage and to unfreeze the GP MBS items. Lifting the freeze will help maintain universal patient access and will be cost-effective," Dr Jones said.

GPs and patients are feeling the impact.

"GPs are by far the most efficient group in the health system and overall receive only 7% of health funding. The cost of providing these services continues to increase but the patient rebate has not.

"Our goal is to see patient Medicare rebate freeze lifted, and general practice adequately funded: we remain united, firm and resolute to ensure our patients health and well-being is maintained and enhanced," Dr Jones said