Strengthening Medicare

The Abbott Government will strengthen Medicare to ensure Australians can continue to affordably access world class healthcare services.

Page last updated: 13 May 2014

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13 May 2014

Ten years ago, we were spending $8 billion on the Medicare, today it’s $19 billion and in 10 years’ time it is projected to be more than $34 billion.

The taxpayer currently funds 263 million free services a year under Medicare.

Clearly this is unsustainable.

While many Australians already contribute to the cost of a visit to their GP, from 1 July next year, the Government will ask all Australians to contribute to their own health care costs.

Previously bulk-billed patients can expect to make a contribution of at least $7 to the cost of most visits to the GP and out-of-hospital pathology and diagnostic imaging services.

Concessional patients and children under 16 will have their $7 contribution capped at ten visits.

Doctors will be paid an incentive to charge these patients no more than the $7 contribution for the first 10 visits. After the first 10 visits the doctor will continue to be paid an incentive if they provide the services to these patients for free.

While the Government will continue to subsidise all Medicare services and majority of the costs, the rebate for most GP and out-of-hospital pathology and diagnostic imaging services will be reduced by $5.

These actions will strengthen and modernise Medicare to ensure its long-term sustainability.

In 2014-15 the Government will invest $20.3 billion in Medicare and by 2017-18 that investment grows to $22.6 billion.

There is growing pressure on the health system from the ageing population, the increasing incidence of chronic disease and increases in costs generated by new technologies.

The $7 contribution is just a small part of the cost of the service for which the government pays at least $32.70 for a typical GP consultation or $35.10 for a common x-ray, such as a chest x-ray.

The Government will also remove the restrictions on state and territory governments that prevents hospital emergency departments charging a modest fee for presentations.

As a result of Labor’s poor Budget management, wasteful spending and increasing debt, Australia has been living beyond its means.

The Abbott Government is facing up to the structural challenges that have been ignored for too long.

The Government will simplify and streamline the complicated Medicare safety net arrangements.

From 1 January 2016, a new Medicare Safety Net will ensure that Medicare resources are appropriately directed to help with out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-funded services.

The new lower threshold will help more people and ensure that safety net benefits are available to people who have serious medical conditions or have prolonged health care needs.

The Government will also maintain the current suspension of indexation on all Medicare rebates, excluding GP services, for two years until 1 July 2016.

Over the last eight months, the Government has undertaken extensive economic analysis and received the findings of an audit. We have been working methodically through all of the options to see where we can get the best outcomes for our country in the fairest way possible.

The Australian people have said they want a government that would fix the Budget and strengthen the economy. That is what we are doing.

For all media inquiries, please contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7220

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