Improving the assignment of benefit process

We are working to create digital solutions to improve the Medicare payment processes. This will increase transparency for patients and better ensure the integrity of Medicare.

About the process

We are aiming to create solutions that will streamline Medicare billing for bulk billed services and services provided in private hospitals. The existing paper-based processes will be replaced by electronic options.

Why it is important

Under Medicare and the Health Insurance Act 1973, the Australian Government subsidises the cost of health services. This is the legal basis for Medicare benefits to be paid to patients.

When a medical practitioner or other health provider agrees to accept a Medicare rebate as full payment for a service, they engage in bulk billing. This process requires an 'assignment of benefit' – an agreement between the practitioner and the patient (or entitled person). In this agreement, the patient gives their Medicare benefit to the practitioner, meaning they don't pay anything out-of-pocket for the service.

Privately insured patients may also choose for hospital and hospital-substitute treatment to assign their Medicare benefit to a billing agent or their private health insurer. This is known as simplified billing. This enables the patient to give their Medicare benefits to be managed on their behalf along with their private health insurance benefits. This means a patient may receive fewer accounts.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we issued temporary guidelines for doctors on MBS telehealth items. Patients can verbally consent to assign a benefit during their consultation with their doctor in certain situations. 

In January 2023, the Australian National Audit Office released a report called Expansion of Medicare Telehealth Services. The report found that there could be legal risks with assigning benefits verbally. The minister responded by asking us to modernise the process of assigning benefits for all bulk billed Medicare services. Updating the process aims to make it easier, safer, and more efficient for everyone.

Together with Services Australia, we have released guidance for service providers on how to conduct bulk bill telehealth consultations while the project is ongoing. The guidance includes information on how to use verbal assignment in compliance with the law. In late 2023, we approved an interim solution for providers to use digital signatures that can integrate with their software in their practice.


Modernising this process aims to:

  • make it easier for healthcare providers to file accurate Medicare claims
  • increase the use of electronic signatures
  • improve automation and integration with practice and hospital software
  • safeguard the integrity of Medicare payments
  • improve record keeping
  • enhance patient awareness and improving the experience of bulk billing and simplified billing
  • digitise and automate manual and paper-based processes. 

Medicare is an essential part of Australia's healthcare system. The government is investing $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive – the biggest increase in Medicare's 40-year history. The change will affect everyone who offers and receives bulk billed services as well as those using simplified billing.

The new benefit assignment process will reflect modern practices while protecting Medicare's integrity.

Meeting our goals

To meet our goals, we will:

  • propose amendments to Commonwealth legislation to modernise the Assignment of Benefit (Health Insurance Act 1973)
  • conduct ongoing consultation and research to give a permanent digital solution for assigning benefits
  • communicate with stakeholders about any changes so they can transition smoothly to start new processes
  • update all public facing information on 

Have your say

We held an initial consultation in December 2023 with the release of a discussion paper.

To design the new process, we will consult with:

  • Services Australia
  • health service and business sector representatives
  • software vendors
  • private health insurers and hospitals
  • state and territory governments.

Please stay informed by checking for updates on this webpage, or the Medicare Benefits Schedule Online site. You can also contact us


July 2024

The Health Insurance Legislation Amendment (Assignment of Medicare Benefits) Bill 2024 was passed by Parliament on 2 July 2024. The Governor-General provided Royal Assent on 9 July 2024.

The date of effect of the legislation amendment is 18 months from the day the Act received Royal Assent. During this time, we will:

  • engage with stakeholders to create necessary supporting legislative instruments
  • identify and develop digital mechanisms to enable the new assignment of benefits processes.

May 2024

The Health Insurance Legislation Amendment (Assignment of Medicare Benefits) Bill 2024 was introduced to Parliament on 29 May 2024.

March 2024

The government considered options to introduce legislative amendments to modernise the assignment of benefits in the first half of 2024. 

December 2023

We held a targeted consultation to gather feedback for designing solutions and potential legislative changes. It encouraged stakeholders, particularly healthcare practitioners, to work with us to find digital solutions.

Participants included:

  • representatives from the Australian Medical Association
  • the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • the Consumers Health Forum of Australia
  • medical industry software providers
  • state and territory governments.

A digital form has been approved for assigning benefits to bulk billed telehealth services. It is an interim solution to assign benefits electronically.

Learn more


Assignment of Benefit (AoB) project contact

Please contact us for any enquiries or more information about the Assignment of Benefit (AoB) project.
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