2020 has been a unique year for the world and for general practice in particular. During the COVID-19 pandemic the government provided a number of additional Medicare benefits which allowed us to minimise the cost of health care for many patients through increased bulk billing incentives and the addition of telehealth services. Due to the Eaton & Australind Medical Centres commitment to pass on these benefits directly to patients, you may have noticed that you have been bulk billed for your consultations more often over the past few months, despite not having a government concession card. As of 1 October 2020, a number of these benefits will be discontinued and, as a result, the practices are in a position where there is a need to alter billing arrangements so you can continue to receive the same quality primary care.
From 1 October 2020:
- Eaton & Australind Medical Centres will continue to offer bulk billing arrangements for all children under 16yo and people 65yo and over with a government health care concession card. Other patients with a government health care concession card may be bulk billed at the discretion of the treating doctor.
- Access to telehealth appointments will remain but unless the bulk billing criteria above is met, there will be a private fee that can be paid via credit or debit card over the phone at the completion of your appointment. The private fee will be less than a face to face appointment and will be dependent on the length of the appointment. A guide to current private fees is as follows:
|Type of Appointment||Private Fee||Medicare Rebate||Gap Paid by Patient|
|Standard Consultation: |
|Long Consultation: |
If you would like to know a bit more about the benefits that were provided up to 30 September 2020, the following information provides a summary:
- The provision of a Medicare rebate for telehealth (phone and videoconferencing) services was originally rolled out for specific patient groups and then was eventually extended to all patients. It was also originally a requirement that to provide this service, the patient must be bulk billed. This caveat was removed in about April 2020 due to a number of general practices around the country not being able to remain in the black if required to bulk bill. Despite being allowed to charge private fees for telehealth consultations, at Eaton and Australind Medical Centre, we chose to continue to bulk bill all of our patient for telehealth consultations until 30 September 2020 to ensure that everyone was able to access health care during the pandemic.
- In addition to telehealth, a bulk billing incentive was introduced for all patients that were at increased risk of serious consequences from COVID-19 infection. This included patients with chronic disease such as asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease (to name a couple), pregnant women and for 12 months following the birth of a child, people 70yo and over and people with cancer. You therefore may have found yourself being unexpectedly bulk billed for your consultation. Unfortunately, this incentive is discontinued from 1 October 2020, forcing us to return to our pre-COVID-19 bulk billing policy as described above.
For more information on bulk billing, please follow this link: