Australian Medical Association recommends GP price increase while the rebate continues

Tasmanians will be subjected to increased GP costs as the Medicare rebate freeze continues, the Australian Medical Association Tasmania has warned.  

The AMA on Wednesday recommended a new standard fee of $78 for a standard Level B GP consultation, increasing from $76 in 2015. 

However the Medicare Benefits Schedule rebate, which was last indexed on July 1 2014, will remain at $37.05. AMA Tasmania president Dr Stuart Day said the MBS rebate lagged behind the cost of providing quality patient care. 

Dr Day said it was inevitable that GPs would need to review whether or not to bulk-bill. He said the rebate freeze was an “enormous burden on hardworking GPs”.  

“It is not predetermined that a visit to the GP will cost $78, it is up to individual doctors to set their own prices and to decide whether or not they bulk-bill patients,” Dr Day said.

Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart said the “short-sighted” Turnbull government had “failed” Northern Tasmanians. Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said she was “delighted” with Australia’s 85.1 per cent bulk-billing rate.

“We respect … that doctors are small businesses and they have the scope to set their fees,” Ms Ley said.

Mr Hart said Northern Tasmania had one of the country’s “lowest bulk-billing rates”.

“For patients whose doctors don’t bulk-bill, they will now have less than half [of] their bill covered by Medicare,” Mr Hart said. 

The freeze will continue until at least 2020 under federal government policy.