More Australians than ever are receiving their medical care at no cost to themselves, with the latest Medicare data showing that almost nine out of 10 visits to the GP in 2020-21 were bulk billed, with no out-of-pocket cost to the patients.
In the last 12 months to June 2021, the GP bulk billing rate was at an all-time high of 88.8 per cent. This is 1.2 percentage points higher than the previous year and 6.5 percentage points higher than in 2012-13.
Across all Medicare services, the bulk billing rate reached 81 per cent, an increase of 4.5 percentage points since 2012-13.
A total of 377.2 million medical services were bulk billed to Medicare in 2020-21, 34.1 million more than in the previous year.
The Australian Government’s rapid and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic is reflected in today’s record-breaking figures.
Telehealth changes to Medicare introduced for the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to high bulk billing, while also reducing the risk of spreading the disease in the community.
GPs provided 38 million consultations via phone and 769,543 via video over the last 12 months and Medicare benefits were also paid for 5 million phone consultations and 2.3 million video consultations provided by specialists and allied health professionals.
The temporary telehealth items represented 22.6 per cent of GP consultations and 9.9 per cent of all Medicare services in 2020-21.
As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Government committed more than $65 million from 1 January 2022 to boost bulk billing rebates and provide more affordable healthcare for patients in regional, rural and remote areas.
Our Government’s commitment to Medicare and bulk billing remains rock solid. These figures show that we are supporting the health and wellbeing of Australians more than ever before.