Record GP bulk billing rates under Medicare reached 87.5 per cent in 2019–20. This means that on average, more than 8 out of 10 visits to the GP were provided with no out-of-pocket cost.
In total, Medicare services increased to 428.3 million with total benefits reaching $24.7 billion.
To ensure Australians have access to the healthcare services they need through the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary Medicare telehealth services have been introduced and widely taken up by the community.
In the period from 13 March to 30 June 2020, there were 1.4 million COVID-19 video consultations and 16 million COVID-19 phone consultations provided by GPs, specialists and allied health professionals.
Temporary telehealth items have played a critical role in the Government’s response to COVID-19. They have allowed patients to access essential health care while minimising the risk of community transmission of the virus.
The uptake of the telehealth items was greatest for GPs, with 13.9 million GP consultations provided by phone and 504,307 by video.
For the 2019–20 financial year, temporary telehealth items represented 8.8 per cent of GP consultations and 4.1 per cent of all Medicare services.
Bulk-billing incentive payments have been temporarily doubled to support sustainable practice, while the types of services eligible for the incentive payments have been expanded.
The Morrison Government has also required telehealth services to vulnerable Australians to be bulk billed. These measures have reduced the barriers to timely health care for thousands of Australians.
Our rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant better protection for patients and health care providers, and ensured continuity of access to affordable care.
The Morrison 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.