Central Coast residents have seen some of the largest increases in bulk billing in Australia, since the Albanese Government tripled the bulk billing incentive.
The landmark Budget initiative is a key part of the Government’s $6.1 billion Strengthening Medicare reforms and is the largest investment in bulk billing in Medicare’s 40-year history.
In October, before the incentive was tripled on 1 November, 71.3% of all GP visits were bulk billed across the Central Coast electorates of Dobell and Robertson. By December that increased by around 4.5 percentage points to 75.7%.
The increase in the bulk billing rate means an estimated 10,000 additional trips to the GP were bulk billed on the Central Coast in November and December, saving locals an estimated $370,000 in gap fees and helping to ease the cost of living.
Bulk billing had been falling after a decade of cuts and neglect to Medicare by the former Government that began when Peter Dutton froze Medicare rebates as Health Minister.
Thanks to the Albanese Government, bulk billing has now stabilised and begun to rise again, enabling GPs to bulk bill more patients who need care the most.
The bulk billing incentive is paid on top of the standard Medicare benefit when doctors bulk bill children under 16, pensioners and other Commonwealth concession card holders.
The GP bulk billing rate throughout NSW has increased by 1.7 percentage points to 82.3%, saving residents across the state more than $3.6 million in gap fees in just two months.
Nationally, the GP bulk billing rate has risen by 2.1 percentage points to 77.7%.
The GP bulk billing rate measures the proportion of all GP visits that involved no patient payment.
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“Doctors’ groups have called our tripling of the bulk billing incentive a ‘game changer’ – and clearly it is.
“The Albanese Government committed to making it easier for people to see a bulk billing doctor – and the first two months of data show that is exactly what is happening right around the country, and particularly on the NSW Central Coast.
“This is a win all round – for patients, doctors and the health system – and it is helping make Medicare stronger than it has ever been since Labor introduced it 40 years ago.”
Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister McBride:
“Across Australia, including in regional communities like the Central Coast, we’ve seen an increase in bulk billing making it easier and more affordable for people to see a doctor.
“The tripling of the bulk billing incentive is the largest investment in bulk billing since Medicare was established 40 years ago.
“Eligible patients account for around 3 out of 5 visits to the GP, and in some communities much more than that, meaning a very significant increase to general practice incomes.”
Quotes attributable to Gordon Reid MP:
“Labor introduced Medicare and only Labor can be trusted to strengthen and protect it.
“People on the Coast are finding it easier to see a bulk billing doctor because of Labor’s efforts to strengthen Medicare.
“This is delivering significant cost of living relief for people on the Central Coast.”