Report 'clearly quantifies' impact of GP co-payments

07 July, 2014

The elderly, those with chronic conditions and young families will be hit hardest by the proposed GP co-payment, according to a new study.

Conducted by the University of Sydney, findings from the Byte from BEACH research suggest a young family, that is one with two children under 16 and two adults between 25-44 years of age, would be paying as much as $184 more per year to access basic medical care.

Twenty five per cent of all Type 2 Diabetes patients would pay an additional $150 per year.

The report's co-author Dr Clare Bayram said the introduction of co-payments wouldn't be shared equally within the community.

"The proposed co-payments regime is likely to deter the most vulnerable in the community from seeking care due to higher costs that they would face," Dr Bayram said.

The Australian Medical Association's (AMA) President A/Prof Brian Owler said the report is the first to clearly quantify the likely impact of the government's Budget measures for health.

"This is the sort of research that the government should have conducted before the Budget," A/Prof Owler said.

Alternative co-payment model 'may be appropriate'

However in light of the heavy backlash from both health groups and the public, A/Prof Owler said the AMA is encouraged that the government is showing signs of having another look at some aspects of the current co-payment model, following talks held with Tony Abbot and Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton at the end of last month (June).

"The AMA knows that a modest co-payment would improve our Medicare system and that is why I am perfectly happy to work with the AMA to ensure that Australia has the best possible Medicare system," Abbott told parliament recently.

"The Prime Minister and the Health Minister have acknowledged that there may be issues for residents of aged care facilities," A/Prof Owler said.

"Following my recent meeting with the Prime Minister, the AMA is working on some alternatives that protect the most vulnerable.

"The AMA acknowledges that GP services are undervalued, and that a form of co-payment may be appropriate.

"We have accepted the government's invitation to provide alternative models that promote health policies such as chronic disease management and preventive health care, and which value general practice, radiology, and pathology services."