Went to See GP, Then Realised She Has Changed to Be Private Billing

I was ill the other day and decided to see my GP who I have not seen for a while. I have made a booking few days prior going in to see my GP.
Few days later after seeing my GP, I was walking out of the clinic but heard receptionist called out my name. It appears that my GP does not do bulk billing anymore, and I had to pay $60 for the consultation. I was advised that I could claim $37.50 from Medicare.

But still….I felt like I should be informed earlier when I made the booking.
Has anyone come across the same experience?

I kind of like my GP…now I am not sure if I should continue seeing her in the future due to the extra cost incurred.

Comments

  • +2 votes

    How often do you see the doctor? I go to the doctors once every couple of years so $22.50 out of pocket wouldn't bother me. If you go often then I would find a different doctor.

    •  

      once every few months
      I actually don't mind paying a bit extra but the fact i did not have to pay in the past made re-consider

      • +1 vote

        Thats mainly psychological anchoring. The important thing is how much do you value your health? Think about how much you value a good meal over an ok meal or clothing or accessories or holidays etc. Now think about whether good healthcare is important enough to you in the same manner :)

        •  

          It is the same quality of healthcare though as it is the same doctor as in the past.

        •  

          @Quantumcat:

          Sure it’s the same I guess as if your favourite restaurant raised prices to survive. At the end of the day it’s a decision regarding whether you think the quality is worth paying for.

  • +1 vote

    Change to another GP that will bulk bill, you can transfer your files.

  • +2 votes

    Dr Google is free

  • +2 votes

    So your health is worth less than $27 to you?

  • -1 vote

    Time to rise up and demand our rights!!!!

  • +9 votes

    The bigger question is how much longer can any GP bulk bill for?

    The Medicare rate doesn't move with inflation so what is the GP supposed to do?

    Are you asking the GP to volunteer their time to look after you?

    The old philosophy behind free healthcare that Medicare was designed for is probably not going to be around forever unfortunately but these are the times we live in.

    • +4 votes

      I hope our healthcare system won't end end up like the US healthcare system.
      Just this morning watching the news, said the government wants to encourage young people to adopt private health insurance, I'm scared for Medicare what about the people who can't afford to see a doctor? :(

    • +3 votes

      This.

      Plus, most GPs aren't unreasonable. They most likely have discretionary bulk billing for patients who will need frequent follow-up/visitations or patients whom they know would have difficulties paying out-of-pocket +/- children/elderly/VA

      The cost of running a practice would only increase over time; given the need for various insurances (indemnity, building, income etc), software licences, staff wages, disposables, replacing and maintaining equipment (a cheapskate dermatoscope costs AUD40 but tells you nothing of significance, you'll need to drop 4 digits of these and they are fragile fickle things), accreditations, etc.

      I personally know a GP who runs his own practice as the only doctor there and he works strictly by the book. His income, contribution to super included, is no more than his staff's =(. His consult fees are on the higher side, but he waives them most of the time.

    • +3 votes

      The bigger question is how much longer can any GP bulk bill for?

      Not much longer. I work in the medical industry and have seen a dozen practices close down this year for going broke. They all bulk billed.

    •  

      That's entirely up to the government.

  • +3 votes

    can't you decide for yourself?

  • +2 votes

    Try calling a plumber or electrician and then see what your out of pocket expense is!! Sheez.. some people

  • +1 vote

    You could also save some money and DIY :0
    https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/335138

  •  

    Has your situation changed? Have you gone from unemployed to employed? Student to working? Most practices are a combination of private and bulk billing. Those who cant afford it are bulk billed, those who can get charged.

  • +4 votes

    But still….I felt like I should be informed earlier when I made the booking.

    Yeah, most places do inform me at the time of the booking if the doctor won't bulk-bill.
    The receptionist probably screwed up.

    If you don't see the GP that often and like them, you could just pay the full price.
    You'd also avoid seagulls taking free sickies, using up the appointment slots and making the bulk-billing GPs run late.

    Don't forget to pay on credit card (amex if no surcharge) and then get the $37.50 straight into your high-interest bank account or mortgage offset account.

  •  

    Find another GP, not hard.

  • +2 votes

    You seem to be coping a lot of flack for not wanting to pay to see a doctor. In my opinion, it's reasonable to be upset over being unexpectedly charged for a service that used to be free (for you). It's reasonable to expect them to inform you of that change before your appointment.

    In this case though, it depends on what you mean by 'a while'

  • +4 votes

    The fact that your GP is brave enough to switch from bulk billing to a $60 fee shows that they must be a good doctor (otherwise noone will keep seeing them). At the end of the day they probably couldn't sustain bulk billing and practise good medicine and have fair pay all at once.

    Once something is free, the mentality is hard to change. However, your health is worth it. Just think how much you spend on your other expenses and then compare to your GP gap fee. If you see your GP even 4x a year it doesn't work out to be all that much.

    I see a lot of comments about switching to another bulk billing doctor. You may find that the good BB GPs are dwindling as it really is unsustainable if they are trying to practise good medicine in the face of years of rising costs but no rise in consultation fees.

  •  

    My clinic in Canberra charges $80 but it is convenient to where I live and (used to) work so convenience is a factor.

    I ave just been (several times) to a hospital in Medellin, Colombia for a problem with my left hand. The first consultation cost me about $34 and included about a half hour with the doctor (and 2 medical students because they spoke English). Once finished with the doctor the students took me around the hospital getting other tests and procedures sorted out, including X-Rays, blood and setting up an appointment at a separate clinic for myelographic tests.

    Then back to see a specialist (who spoke broken English) with the test results. All this within 3 days and a total bill (so far and including all the tests, of $190). Luckily, there's no surgery required, but I will have to pay for ten sessions of physiotherapy(300,000 pesos - about $129).

    I feel so cheated that I had to pay :=D.

  •  

    well, you know to find another doctor now.
    I stopped going to my local when he started charging $93 for a standard visit, the last straw was when he said "oh, my computer has lost all your old records or well" . No more visits from our family and we found another.

    But if you like that doctor, $60 isnt too bad really, you get the majority back.

    •  

      Sorry to hear that buddy. i wonder if they are legally liable in this case then…
      Like our health records are important

      I was told that i can get about $30ish back.

      •  

        I'm sure there would be ( or should be) backups, but he just wasn't interested. He could have even lied and told me he would get a backup and I would have been happy.

  • +1 vote

    I am $70 out of pocket when i see my doctor but you know, who cares. I don't go a lot but when I've been really sick and needed to go a lot, i get bulk billed. I can ring for prescriptions and pay $10 or something to just pick them up.

  • +1 vote

    I think we're used to not paying for healthcare.
    We pay for everything else in life because we have to but having been brought up under bulk billing we don't realise how little GPs get paid for the vital responsibility of looking after your health.
    A burst pipe? - plumber will fix that for you for $300. Sure no probs. And if he stuffs up you call him back again.

    A fever? - a GP will check that for you for $37. Easy right? Not really, because if the GP stuffs up and you die. He might lose his medical registration for stuffing up accidentally, all for that $37 or $60 in your case. Either way you can see even though its seems like a big jump, in reality the difference is miniscule in the grand scheme of things when it comes to your health.

    The best way to think about is that you're spending $23 on your body. The best $23 you'll ever spend

  • +1 vote

    You do realise that is less than what a vet would charge to see your pet? Ultimately, it is a question of how much you value your own health. If it is a good GP, paying a small out of pocket fee imho is reasonable.

    I do think your GP should have informed you of the out of poket fee at the time of your booking though.

  • +1 vote

    That $60 you paid… depending on the nature of the practice, the GP typically takes home 50-65% ($30-$39) as income before tax, super and higher education debt. This is apart from the overheads of running the practice.

    When the GP chooses to bulk bill you, they make 50-65% of about $37.25 for a 15min consultation. Let's just call that 20 bucks before tax.

    To become a GP, most people now do an undergraduate degree, followed by post-graduate medicine, followed by 2-3 years in a hospital as a stressed out junior doctor, followed by 2-3 years as a GP registrar, followed by GP specialist accreditation exams which then cost about $8000 to sit (about 60% of candidates pass first time).

    The previous government and current government are both guilty of allowing the Medicare rebate (this is a publicly funded 'cashback' on GP services) to fall behind the actual cost of a GP delivering healthcare. The pollies are much happier for you to pay a gap (which makes the GPs the bad guys) instead of setting the rebate at GPs' typical costs.

    If a GP bulk bills you these days, they are either working to a "6-minute medicine" (volume) strategy, or are nice and have recognised a need to do that for a patient.

  • Login
  • or
  • Register
  • to Join The Conversation
  • Top