Stronger Rural Health – Recruitment and retention – supporting rural and remote areas through improved targeting of rural bulk billing incentives

Page last updated: 08 May 2018

Stronger Rural Health – Recruitment and retention – supporting rural and remote areas through improved targeting of rural bulk billing incentives (PDF 119 KB)

The Government will update the geographic eligibility criteria for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items 10991, 64991 and 74991 – incentives to bulk bill services for vulnerable populations in rural and remote areas. This ensures that the definition of rural and remote areas is aligned across workforce programs, and is based on up to date information.

Why is this important?

The geographic classification on which bulk billing incentives are calculated is based on outdated 1991 population figures. This measure will use the latest figures – 2011 and due to be updated later this year with 2016 figures – so that these incentives are correctly targeted to rural and remote areas. The geographic eligibility criteria for MBS items that provide incentives will be updated to ensure that a rural classification is based on the latest Australian population and distribution statistics under Modified Monash Model remoteness classification 2–7.

The aligned incentives will start on 1 July 2019.

Areas with some of the highest concentration of doctors per person in Australia and which have had significant growth since 1991 are currently included in a program designed to address maldistribution.

As a result of realignment, rural areas should retain higher incentives and the program targeted as intended.

Who will benefit?

Rurally targeted MBS benefits will be paid to the correct rural and remote locations, ensuring that patients have access to bulk billing.

Doctors in these areas will have correct access to rural bulk billing incentives.

The sustainability of the MBS will be improved because bulk billing incentives go to areas of real need.

How much will this cost?

The Stronger Rural Health Strategy is a $550 million investment to support improved rural health services.

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