How to Get a GP Doctor to Bulk Bill You?

Doctors in Australia are so expensive when it should be free. In Europe healthcare is free - we just walk into a specialist doctors clinic and will be seen or get an appointment, no need for referral from a GP. No need to pay.

Here doctors get money from government and still ask you to pay. I have to pay $70 to just see a GP. How do you get your GP doctor to bulk bill you? I have tried the following which have worked:

  • tell them how long you waited and it would not be fair to charge
  • say “just a quick one” and tell them what you need like a script or certificate.
  • usually they won’t charge just for a script, so say you just want a script then talk about what you need to see them for

However without trying the above and I just ask them if they will bulk bill me up they will say no. It is stupid here. So ridiculous.

Healthcare should be free. Share your strategies on how to be bulk billed. I am still trying to get specialists to bulk bulk. We need to help each other.

Comments

    • +4

      Completely agree. Doctors are not paid much after you take into account costs of working, and compare it to time spent studying. Your bricklayer may earn more

      • T5: Completely agree. Doctors are not paid much after you take into account costs of working, and compare it to time spent studying. Your bricklayer may earn more

        99:Lots of people spend years studying and continue to study while they work. The fact is GPs do very well, and thats great but dont start pretending that they earn very small amounts and all bricklayers drive ferraris, because thats simply untrue. YOu must compare the average with the average.

        • +1

          Didn't realise you get to be a doctor by being average.

        • @tshow:

          TS: Didn't realise you get to be a doctor by being average.

          Thats not what i said, you know very well from the context, what i was alluding too. As always you fail to actually tell anyone what the AVG GP earns and pays tax on, and try and pretend some rare caseat the bottom of the chart is the average.

          As always the word games continue.

          So what do GP earn according to the ATO on AVG ?

        • @ninetyNineCents:
          You're comparing averages of two occupations as if they are equal.

          Let's see, do I have to be exceptional to get into medical school? Yes

          Do I have to be exceptional to get into bricklaying school? No.

          So why are we comparing the two? Because you're trying to draw parallels between a high level profession to an average labour job.

          Word games.

          (Again, I don't care what a GP or a bricklayer earns. They're free to dictate their prices and ride out the consequences of their fee structure.)

        • @tshow:

          TS: You're comparing averages of two occupations as if they are equal.

          Let's see, do I have to be exceptional to get into medical school? Yes

          99: We are discussing money, the $50 in your pocket is no different than t he $50 in anyone elses. Of course they are comparable.

          ~

          TS: Do I have to be exceptional to get into bricklaying school? No.

          99: We arent discussing that. Completely irrelevant. Just look how dishonst you are, complain about being poor and cant accept GPs have a good income. Just be honest.

        • @ninetyNineCents:
          Okay, you've taught me that money in my hand is equivalent to money in someone else's hand. A fact to contribute to a discussion not had.

          Completely circumnavigated any mention of professional worth and/or qualification.

          We aren't discussing bricklayers yet you're the one that brought it up. See your response above. It's right there. So yeah.

          Again, a repeated question - where did I cry poor? Is that a made up thing we should accept as fact? I'm not as flexible on evidence as you are.

    • +2

      I'm a GP too…I'll stick with my Corolla :) I Bulkbill because I'm working in the low SES area (in-need area) but I've worked in a non-bulk billing practice before too (in wealthier suburbs). But yea this really sums up the expenses that people don't realise.

      Honestly though, if they return the standard consultation medicare rebate back to the recommended $78 (for GP's) AND increased annually as per inflation rates I guarantee bulk-billing rates will improve significantly and doctors and patients will be much happier :)

      • I hope they don't reintroduce more rebate, subsidy, hokus pokus programs. It always gets rorted and the honest guys end up copping it.

    • -4

      7 years in University? Could have used some time to perfect your grammar.

      But seriously, agree, what you've said is very true.

    • And then there is their hecs debt..

    • +3

      I have a friend that's a doctor. He tells me that he makes more money doing less hours being on standby for the hospital than he did as a GP. I've no doubt specialist health is where the money is at. GP's are underpaid, overworked, stressed AF and not appreciated enough for the work they do.

    • -2

      4 patients an hour? A GP will see 4 patients in the time you take a coffee break.
      Fix that then I'll read the revised calcs.

      • +6

        I am a GP, I see 4 patients a hour. I only book 15 (or 30) minute appointments. Is your coffee break 1 hour? If so then yes I see 4 patients in your coffee break

        • -1

          How many times do you tell grannies to come back in a few days and then milk that over and over again ?

          Dont tell me never, because i know it happens all the time, ive seen it and heard it many times, over.

    • And no maternity / paternity care!

    • I am just curious, you wrote all of this so in the end do you earn somewhere near your calculation?

  • +1

    Problem is that "Just a quick one" does not change how much time they have blocked off for you. Their next patient may be coming in 15min. You take only 2min. So what? They still have to wait 13 minutes of unused time.

    There are plenty of doctors that bulk bill, but you will find they spend less time on you

    • 15 minutes? Then you'd rarely see anyone in waiting room. I've never seen a doctors surgery like that.
      In the past (my current doctor doesn't do this) they would double book, and you'd never see the Dr anywhere near your appointed time.

      If Dr gets $35/5min and I presume $70 for longer appointments, sounds like a very busy, but profitable job.

      • The bulk billing one double and even triple book. The non-bulk billing ones can afford to spend more time and may run late.

        Explains the long waiting period

        The 15min is an example. It could be 5 or it could be 10. Point is, if you spend less than their allotted time in their books or in their minds, it leaves empty space

  • -1

    What do you define as Europe? Been heaps of places, there is no such thing as free lunch! Go to Brunei and if you can convince them that you are a true muslim been there long enough you are in for Russian Roulette.
    Nowhere does free healthcare properly work. Stop dreaming, get real!

  • -1

    Bulk bill means they claim the rebate for everyone at once, hence the bulk.

    They're not going to bulk bill an individual because they requested it.

  • +2

    WTF. Go to another doctor that bulk bills.

  • +3

    The popcorn required for reading this thread should be free.

    • The corn grown for making popcorn should be given away for free.

  • Go to a bulk bill clinic?

  • Go to a bulk bill clinic?

  • … Go to a doctor that bulk bills? Which is many. Problem solved. Otherwise stop having a fit and complaining. Australia has pretty much one of the best in the world when it comes to healthcare.

  • -1

    maybe do a 360 back to Europe…. ..

    • +3

      180*

  • +15

    GP here.

    Bulk billing works on numbers. You need to see at least 6 patients/hr to make any money, especially with ever-increasing overheads on staff, office space, electricity, healthcare items, insurance, IT, etc. The way medicare is structured, there simply is not enough money in the current rebate to make GP practices financially viable.

    If you want to spend more than 1 issue/consult or have any complexity or time to talk to the doctor about your issues, then you will, unfortunately, be required to pay a private gap fee. This is the only real financially sustainable manner in which a practice can function. My practice charges a $40 gap on top of the $37.05 rebate which just gets us over the line of being able to turn a profit after paying for all overheads. This is also assuming full client lists, people actually paying their bills and costs not increasing significant year in/out. It's really difficult for GPs right now as the government continues to hack and slash at our medicare rebates.

    If you're not happy about this and would like healthcare to necessarily be free, then I suggest you organize and write to your preferred politician. This is a governmental issue and it's not exactly fair to say it's because of the greedy GP.

    Finally, if OP were my patient and tried the above, I'd have none of it and would definitely charge them unless there was a specific underlying reason why they should be bulk billed. Would you complain about an accountant or lawyer's fees? Do you realize that by bulk billing you and spending >7 mins with you, I am basically out of pocket to help you? How is that fair?

    • If you see a doctor for results (less than 5 minutes) during normal business hours, but the doctor B/B Medicare Level C after hours. Is this correct?

      • No, that is fraud.

        The definition of a level C is found at http://www9.health.gov.au/mbs/search.cfm?q=36&Submit=&sopt=S

        It is defined as:

        Professional attendance by a general practitioner at consulting rooms (other than a service to which another item in the table applies), lasting at least 20 minutes and including any of the following that are clinically relevant:

        (a) taking a detailed patient history;

        (b) performing a clinical examination;

        (c) arranging any necessary investigation;

        (d) implementing a management plan;

        (e) providing appropriate preventive health care;

        for one or more health-related issues, with appropriate documentation-each attendance

        • -3

          @Blergs: (a) taking a detailed patient history;

          99: Sorry many patients are repeat, this list of yours is total nonsense. You make it sound like EVERY visit is someone completely new which is absolute bollocks. We all know that many oldies like to visit the doctor because htye need to or dont.

        • +1

          @ninetyNineCents:

          Wow - you've completely missed the point of the post. This sub-thread is about defining a level C consult. Take a deep breath, please.

          On second thoughts, your knee-jerk reactions are really very entertaining. Don't worry about the deep breath! ;)

        • -1

          @limafoxtrot:

          No you missed the point, that claiming necessity to perform all those tasks is that common.

        • @ninetyNineCents:

          No you missed the point, that claiming necessity to perform all those tasks is that common.

          ???

          Try that again, what you wrote is unintelligible.

        • @ninetyNineCents: Um, that's the government definition of a level C. If you have a problem with it, write to medicare.

  • -1

    Avoid doctors who dont bulk bill, and goto doctors that do, just like they have the choice to not bulk bill, you also have the choice to find another doctor that does. You cannot force a doctor to bulk bill just on your say so.

    • -1

      Yes, just like you have a choice to pay the electricity bill.

      • just like that??

  • Hey Stephanie36,

    You're barking up the wrong tree.
    You need to contact your Federal MP who is responsible for Medicare rebates that decide whether a doctor can bulk bill.
    The Medicare rebate has been frozen for years and is only there as a token measure for the government to say they provide free healthcare.

    • and when it wasn't frozen they increase of medicare rebate was never at the rate of inflation, it was always waaaay below

  • +2

    AI DETECTED

  • -1

    85.1% of doctors in Australia do bulk bill. A Lot of specialist do not, unless the person is in need and is unemployed and really needs help. There is a good reason specialist charge. Let’s take an Ophthalmologist for example

    Pre-uni School 13 years
    Medical School 4-6 Years (up to 9 years for someone that does a degree to get into med)
    Internship Rotation 1 year
    Residency Rotation 1 year
    Vocational Training 5 years

    This specialist, that you believe should be free has studied for 26-29 Years and has a huge debt to the government for HELP.

    They then will attempt to repay this, while paying close to 50% tax and put their children thru school, buy a house and save for retirement.

    Generally, they charge around $200 after Medicare rebate. I think that is very reasonable. If you don’t like it, return to Europe. People in the health field have a much smaller window to make money than most.

    I also think waiting for more than 30mins isn't much to ask for. They have trained for most of their life and giving up alot to help people like yourself.

    • +2

      that's a common myth perpetuated by the politicians. actually 85% of medicare ITEMS and not PRESENTATIONSA are billed. quite commonly a patient will be bulkbilled a consult fee and have bulkbilled investigations like ECGs and urine tests. In reality true figure is closer to 70% and declining

    • +4

      GP's are specialists too and are required to do vocationally training and apply to the RACGP speciality program just like everyone else…

      So many people compare GP's to specialists like they are just Doctors that have not done vocational training/ have a speciality which is wrong.

      Pre-uni School 13 years
      Medical School 5-6 Years undergrad
      Internship Rotation 1 year
      Residency Rotation 1 year
      Vocational Training 3-4 years

      • +17

        where did you pull 200 from? a GP gap is usually 35-50. the average fulltime salary in aus is 84k. if you think a doctor with more than 10 years of training, who makes life and death judgments every day and spends 10k a year just to keep practicing should be paid less than a tradie with a tafe cert who started earning money 10 years earlier without uni debt, then good luck when you get sick.

        • Can i give you 5 upvotes?

    • For someone who (based on your username) has an understanding of the education/medical system you have no idea.
      "This specialist, that you believe should be free has studied for 26-29 Years and has a huge debt to the government for HELP."
      You can apply the exact rationale for GPs except their vocational training time is on average 2-3 years. So why do you argue it's acceptable for specialists to charge gaps but not GPs?

    • -1

      yeh and the avg Ophthalmologist earns 300k, and good on them, but dont try and bullshit to me they are poor.

  • +1

    Wait, what? Some people go to doctors that don’t bulk bill? lol

    • I'm assuming you live in Sydney and have the choice to see a clinic / GP that bulk bills everyone, not everyone is that privileged.
      Often in rural areas (or for those unable to travel far e.g. the elderly / infirm) you have no choice as to which practice you go to as an alternative GP is a long drive away ($$$ in time and fuel), or already overbooked and not taking new clients.

  • +9

    I am a GP and I find it extremely rude when patients ask me to bulk bill them. It is literately asking me to give them cash out of my pocket for a service they were very well aware that they needed to pay. Nevertheless, I always bulk bill concession card holders and young patients because we still need to help the most in need.

    1. You would never ever ask to get bulk billed at the hairdresser, coles, JB hifi etc.. Why would you do it for your GP?
    2. I only see 3 patients an hour and cannot continue if I bulk billed as the government rebate has not changed in years and when the cost of living has increased dramatically, private rebates are only going to be more commonplace.
    3. You are more then welcome to go to a bulk billing clinic, no one is forcing you. You get what you pay for.
    4. Its only $30, how much do you value your health? This is far cheaper then a specialist and a good GP should have competency in ALL fields of medicine.
    5. Allied health charge from $50 to hundreds of dollars.
    6. It is a myth that GP's get payed huge amount, we spend tens of thousands of dollars a year JUST TO BE A GP. Also, since I see so few patients as I believe that 20 minutes is the minimum you need to have proper healthcare, I can earn less then half compared to GP's who see 8 an hour and bulk bill.
    7. The GP only gets a percentage of the money you give them, the practice has huge costs and cannot function unless they go through a huge turnover of patients or privately bill.

    There are many more points but please do not ask to be bulk billed unless you were given extremely bad care.

    • +4

      It amazes me that people will fork out hundreds for shoes and handbags or thousands for TV's and electronics but ask them to pay a fee, a good amount of which gets rebated, but when it comes to their own health, they don't want to spend the money or put in the time.

      Frankly I think GP's should charge more until the government lifts the rebate amounts. The shit they put up with is ridiculous compared to the other specialties, and I'm yet to find a layperson who knows that General Practice IS a specialty now.

    • -1

      I agree with you in principle but 10s of thousands of dollars a year to be a GP? Not unless you are running your own practice/rooms. I would have thought about ~$10,000 is what you might pay with college fees, registrations, indemnity insurance, mandatory training etc. But "tens" implies at least 20k a year.

      Not saying it is inexpensive to be a GP, 10k is still a lot.

      I don't agree that if you were given extremely bad care that you ask to be bulk billed. If it was that bad, don't pay!

      • +2

        I'm a physician trainee, not a GP, but $10k sounds like not much. My expenses for the last financial year are more than that and I'm working in a public hospital, not running a private business, and my insurance is hundreds, not thousands of dollars.

      • The costs of being a GP are at least 20K. Extra training alone can cost 20-50K a year.

      • +9

        I find it rude when Mercedes wants 100k for a luxury car. The nerve! Kia can build a car for less than 20 grand. That's proof Mercedes should sell me a car for less than 20 grand…

        Apples, oranges….

        • +3

          Well access to food is a right not a privilege after all. You'd die without food. That's why I demand woolies give me a 50% discount anytime I walk in. Also I demand that there not be any queues at woolies. Some of the cheap ones can have long queues, its ridiculous and unjust!

    • 3 patients an hour?
      Do you send a limo around to pick up each patient for their appointment?

      I don't want to tell you how to run your business, but if you reckon you aren't earning enough perhaps you should consider lifting your work rate a little??

      • +1

        I actually think the above 'business' model is ideal. Healthcare should not be about lining up an assembly line of patients, eyeballing them and billing them. Taking a history from a patient, performing a proper physical examination, discussing findings, collaborating with the patient an appropriate plan for investigation and managment, arranging follow up/referral, etc involve a lot more work than people appreciate. Proper healthcare will win over win over the loyalty of patients and families even if there is a charge.

        I don't see how 20 min appointments is unreasonably long. I'd take quality over quantity anyday

      • +2

        20 minutes is the bare minimum for greeting, history, exam, management plan, screening, education, other issues, proceedures and good documentation. I can easily see 10 an hour if I wanted to but my patients will suffer greatly. I have improved, prolonged and saved lives with this model, I would rather do another career then rush medicine.

    • +3

      Wouldn't you rather bulk bill everyone, thus halving your income per patient, so having to take on twice as many? 8 minute medicine sounds like plenty of time to meet a person, take history, examine, review their investigations, diagnose, set up a treatment plan and arrange referral or follow up!

      I have no idea how you can get it all done in <20 minutes to be honest. I'm a physician trainee, I struggle to keep any consult, admission or clinic patient <30minutes.

    • payed?

      it's paid

    • E: It is a myth that GP's get payed huge amount,

      99: really you are a GP and you cant spell PAID ?

      E: we spend tens of thousands of dollars a year JUST TO BE A GP

      99: So what if you do, tradies spend thousands a year as well, those trucks filled with equipment arent given to them. Lots of professions spend thousands a year so they can work.

      • +1

        Thanks mate, I must incredibly uneducated and foolish to have made a spelling error on the internet, fortunately I have you to educate me.

        The comparison between GP's and tradies is poor, apples and oranges, both have their difficulties and challenges. However, I don't know many tradies who spent their entire teenage years studying endlessly to get into medschool, going through a grueling 7 years of uni + 6 years post graduate training, going through exams which require thousands of hours of study, being in incredible debt, spending over 10-20K EVERY year (last year my expenses were just over 30K) just to be in your college, having the responsibility of dozens of peoples lives in your hands daily, going through immense emotional stress that makes this career have the highest suicide rate, being mandatory to work in areas away from your family, having a significant amount of unpaid work, bullying by patients/senior doctors etc…. the list goes on.

        All my tradie friends earn more then I do after expenses are calculated. Is this fair?

        If I change the way I practice and churn through patients or make everyone pay a private fee I will earn more but I this job because I love it, I have enough money to survive, pay the rent and have some luxuries. It would be nice if the government starts increasing the medicare rebate for patients but if it doesn't, then I will be forced to change the way I practice out of necessity.

        • -4

          E: All my tradie friends earn more then I do after expenses are calculated. Is this fair?

          99: Yes its fair.

          Is it fair that you or me, have . comfortable life while a kid in a nike factory earns $5 a day ?

          Stop whinging.

          ~

          E: I don't know many tradies who spent their entire teenage years studying endlessly to get into medschool, going through a grueling 7 years of uni + 6 years post graduate training, going through exams which require thousands of hours of study, being in incredible debt, spending over 10-20K EVERY year (last year my expenses were just over 30K) just to be in your college,

          99: Truckies spend more than that every year… trucks cost hundreds of thousands….

          ~

          E: If I change the way I practice and churn through patients or make everyone pay a private fee I will earn more but I this job because I love it, I have enough money to survive, pay the rent and have some luxuries.

          99: Thats right so stop whinging and be happy with what you got. A lot of people in Australia have it much worse and work really hard, so stop pretending you are the greatest victim in the universe.

          Be happy you can pay your expenses and have a good life, there are billions of people in the world who live on nothing.

        • +4

          @ninetyNineCents: You can't compare individuals living in extremely different circumstances. Is it fair that people are working 16 hour days in sweatshops? No it isn't, but it does not negate the circumstances GP's are in. Do people work harder then me and earn less? Definitely,and that is an injustice in itself that needs to be rectified. Again you compare a doctor to another job which is even more of a stark comparison. You have the capacity for empathy, please understand that the struggle to become and continue to be doctor is immense, most doctors lives from 14-30 years of age are sacrificed. Ultimately, my point is that if the status quo does not change, patients will inevitably have to deal with lower quality care which has huge consequences. Eventually, many new graduates who really care about their patients would not do GP as its just not worth it unless you book 5-10min appointments. Why do you such animosity towards doctors? Have had bad experiences with doctors?

        • +2

          @eldudebrothers:

          Re: nintyNineCents: Why do you [have] such animosity towards doctors? Have [you] had bad experiences with doctors?

          Good question. There's something going on behind the antagonistic, blustery trolling.

          It's a pity, because 99cents actually makes a few decent points…but they loose a lot of impact, nestled in as they are amongst the chaotic rants and knee-jerk reactions…

        • @limafoxtrot: lol I really need to edit what I write

        • but they loose a lot of impact

          While we're correcting others, it's lose. Phones, huh?

  • +4

    it's a common misconception that GPs are paid a salary by the govt. and charging a gap fee means they are charging you extra. in fact the government does not pay GPs any money and GPs get paid per consult. there is no leave, no sick pay, no annual leave and 30-35% of each consult goes to the practice to pay for rent and staff. a standard 15min consult thus pays 70% of 37 or around 25. minus tax you are looking at 15 dollars per consult.

    medicare rebates were never equivalent to doctor income. it was always for the patient. bulkbilling simply means doctors will charge only the level of medicare rebate, which has not risen in more than 15 years.

    what you are effectively asking when you ask for bulkbilling is to have a 50% discount on your consult. i'd challenge anyone to go to a restaurant, a hair dresser or lawyer and try that out and watch them laugh in your face. yet a lot of people act as if it's their god given right. yes you pay tax yes there is a medicare levy - just remember less than 5% of medicare funding, ie. 20 dollars per consult goes to GPs. it's a shame politicians don't understand investing in primary care has been shown to save the economy muvh more money in the long run. you only have to look at how much overservicing exists in the specialities and cost of hospital admissions to realise australia is heading down the US path. good luck to those without private health insurance then

    • +1

      I don't know one person that has ever said to me that a GP gets paid a salary from the government.

    • Not as common as you think

  • How hard is it to find a bulk billing GP? All my GP's around a 50km radius bulk bill. Pretty much 95% of the GPs in Sydney bulk bill. I'm guessing it would be the same for all capital cities. I've never paid to see a GP in my life.

    • +1

      That's what I thought until I moved to the Central Coast 6 years ago, no doctor here bulk bills unless you're old, under 16, or on some kind of Centerlink benefit. You also have to book an appointment 2-3 days in advance, not just show up and wait until the doctor can see you, as I was used to in Sydney, which makes it really hard to get a doctors certificate. Massive culture shock, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

      • You can wait for a certificate at any country doctor. You do actually have to WAIT though. There is no obligation for you to be fitted in.

        • I'm sure that's the case if one were to actually go to the surgery and ask and agree to wait. However, the few mornings I've called the local doctors surgeries to ask for an appointment that day for the sake of getting a doctors certificate, I've almost had my head bitten off my the receptionist because they're too busy (but that's a whole other topic about the availability and workload of doctors in non-capital city areas). I've taken to going to a local chemist who charges $25 for a medical certificate if I need one. My old doctors in Sydney didn't take appointments anyway, they worked on a first come first served basis so there wasn't even the need to book in advance, you just showed up and waited regardless.

  • +5

    TLDR - Everything I want should be free. Why can't it be free? Can you tell me how to get it for free?

  • +5

    You know why you can't ask your dentist to bulk bill? Because the dentists refused to get on board with Medicare back in the day and from reading this post, I can understand why.

    • -3

      Dentist are both physician and surgeon. If they bulk billed, they would he able to rort the system to no end.

      That's why there's a check and balance system where possible. Physician vs Surgeon. Not always feasible, ie dentist and ENT OTTOMH

      • +1

        i have no idea what you are talking about. i don't think you do either

        • -2

          Physicians diagnose and prescribe medication and management.

          Surgeons will advocate for surgical treatment.

          Some parts of medicine is fairly niche and the specialist will be both physician and surgeon. They can prescribe as many treatment and/or surgeries without a a contending advocate.

        • +2

          @tshow:

          how about obsetrics and gynaecologists? They're both physicians and surgeons. And Gastroenterologist, they're physicians, but have a significant procedural scope. And Opthalmologists, they're physicians and surgeons. And dermatologists, they're physicians that do minor skin procedures. And cardiolgists who are physicians and do things like catheters and stents etc. And GPs, they're physicians that do skin excisions, implant insertion/removal, vasectomies, etc. Some even do general surgery, anaesthetics, obstetrics, etc in rural areas

        • -1

          @uedamasaki:

          You're right. There's multiple disciplines that are physician and surgeons. As I said, it isn't feasible to have a physician and surgeon as separate functions in every discipline.

          Elective disciplines such as dentistry shouldn't be bulk billed as it gives too much autonomy to a profession to overservice and overbill when the cost essentially dilutes into the public coffers. When billed directly to the patient, the issue of finances will then be limited to the patient's wallet and is subject to higher case by case scrutiny.

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