More affordable health care under the Howard Government
Almost 415 000 Australians are now in the new Medicare safety net, which means they are eligible for financial assistance with their out-of-hospital medical bills, including X-rays, scans, blood tests, specialist consultations and visits to the GP.
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28 June 2004
More affordable health care under the Howard GovernmentAlmost 415 000 Australians are now in the new Medicare safety net, which means they are eligible for financial assistance with their out-of-hospital medical bills, including X-rays, scans, blood tests, specialist consultations and visits to the GP.
For example, if a patient who is in the safety net is charged $40 for a visit to the GP he or she will receive a Medicare rebate of $37, not the normal rebate of $25. The safety net will substantially reduce 'gap payments' for Medicare services, making health more affordable for more than one million Australians who are expected to reach the safety net this calender year.
The Medicare safety net meets 80 per cent of the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare services provided out of hospital for families and individuals covered by a Commonwealth concession card or receiving Family Tax Benefit (A) once their out-of-pocket, out-of-hospital expenses exceed $300 in a calendar year. Other individuals and families are eligible for safety net benefits once their out-of-pocket, out-of-hospital expenses exceed $700 in a calendar year.
There are 93 000 families and more than 21 000 individuals who have reached the $300 threshold. There are almost 25 000 families and more than 8000 individuals who have reached the $700 threshold. This amounts to a total of almost 415 000 individuals who are in the Medicare safety net.
There are now 2.85 million Australian families (out of 5 million) who have registered for the safety net. Families who have not yet registered should do so as soon as possible to ensure they are eligible for higher Medicare rebates if they reach the safety net threshold.
The Howard Government's $4 billion Medicare package is helping to make health care more affordable for Australians and providing more opportunities to be bulk billed.
As part of the government's Medicare package, almost 18 million visits to the GP have been bulk billed under the government's new bulk billing incentive payment for Commonwealth concession card holders and children under 16.
Since February 1, GPs could claim an extra $5 each time they bulk bill a concession card holder or child. Since then 16.4 million visits have been bulk billed under this measure. From May 1, a higher bulk billing incentive payment of $7.50 has been available in non-metropolitan areas and in Tasmania. In the first six weeks, almost 1.5 million visits to the GP were bulk billed. Since February, an extra $93 million dollars has been spent on this measure to provide more opportunities for people to be bulk billed.
The March quarter bulk-billing figures show that the government's measures are having an impact on bulk-billing rates, lifting them by 1.8 percentage points. The latest figures show that the bulk-billing rate is at 68.7 per cent (which includes the bulk billing rate for practice nurses, which is 94.5 per cent). The bulk billing rate for older Australians is even higher - at 76.9 per cent. This means that more than three out of four visits to the GP for people over 65 are bulk billed.
"These figures show that the Howard Government's investment in Medicare is already benefiting hundreds of thousands of Australians. There are more opportunities to be bulk billed and more financial assistance for those who need it most. The Howard Government is investing more money in health than any other government and will spend about $41 billion on health in the 2004-05 financial year," Mr Abbott said.
"The Labor Party is the only party planning to cut money from health. Labor has said that it would abolish the safety net if elected. The Howard Government is putting more money in people's pockets through the safety net and Mark Latham wants to take it out of their pockets. How can Mark Latham justify cutting money from Medicare?"
"Make no mistake, your health will cost you more under a Labor Government."
For more information call Mr Abbott's office on ph 02 6277 7220.