Since the Australian government announced its proposed budget in 2013, there’s been a lot of discussion around the concept of a GP co-payment and whether or not it’s a good idea. But what exactly is a GP co-payment and how would it affect the cost of visiting a GP?
A GP co-payment is a payment that patients must make when visiting the GP to help cover the cost of their visit. This payment is charged for bulk-billed visits, meaning that a visit to the doctor will no longer be free for Medicare eligible patients where it previously would have been.
When a doctor bulk-bills a patient it means that they are directly billing Medicare for the consultation, meaning that there is no out-of-pocket cost for patients with a valid Medicare card. With the introduction of a GP co-payment, a bulk-billed consultation would no longer be free but would be equal to the cost of the co-payment, whether this is $5 or $7, or some other amount.
However, the Minister for Health announced in March 2015 that the plans to implement a GP co-payment, which were scheduled to start from the 1st of July 2015, are no longer going ahead. The government will continue to consult with doctors, patients and other professionals to determine alternative budget measures.
For more information on the GP co-payment and how it could affect the cost of visiting the doctor, you can discuss it with your doctor next time you visit them. Your doctor will have the best idea of how their fees may change over time with changing budget policies and will be able to explain any changes that may occur.