Date published: 
16 August 2018
Media type: 
Media release
General public

A record amount of Australians are visiting their doctor without having to pay a cent with the latest Medicare data confirming almost nine out of every ten services were fully bulk-billed.

The data for the 2017-18 financial year shows an increase of more than 5.7 million free services compared to last year, boosting the national bulk-billing rate to 86.1 per cent for the first time in Medicare’s history.

This is nearly 4 per cent higher than Labor’s 82.2 per cent rate, which they achieved when they were last in Government.

Medicare funding is at record levels and the comprehensive data released today shows more Australians are seeing their doctor without having to pay than ever before.

These figures released today can only be achieved thanks to Australia’s world class GPs and doctors. I want to thank them for their tireless work in supporting Australian patients.

The number of bulk-billed services increased in every state and territory for both total Medicare services and visits to the GP.

Over 133 million free GP services were delivered last year – an increase of 5.7 million from 2016-17 and 27.3 million more than Labor ever managed in their last year.

The number of fully subsidised services across Medicare has also risen with an additional 18.4 million bulk-billed services delivered compared to last year, totalling 327 million bulk-billed services.

Our commitment to Medicare is rock solid and we will continue to ensure Australian patients are supported more than ever.

And although more Australians are benefiting from these record figures we must continue to drive down the cost of private health insurance, following the lowest premium change in 17 years.

At my request, the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer is working with the medical profession to address the large and sometimes unanticipated out-of-pocket medical fees some patients face.

We want a no surprises approach to the fees charged to patients and we will work with the sector to deliver better outcomes to Australian patients.

Medicare spending is guaranteed and increasing every year from approximately $24 billion in 2017-18, to $25 billion in 18-19, $26 billion in 19-20, $27 billion in 2020-21 and $29 billion in 2021-22 to support healthcare for every Australian.

We ended the Medicare freeze which Labor introduced. This indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, which the Government reintroduced in last year’s Budget, is delivering an additional $1.5 billion for Medicare services through to 2021-22.

And we will continue to provide new Medicare support for patients.

Only recently we created new Medicare items and support for renal dialysis in remote communities, MRI scans for prostate cancer, 3D mammography test for the early detection of breast cancer and new genetic testing for cystic fibrosis.