The Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce’s changes are set to come into effect in July — but could they prove harmful to bulk-billed patients?
Medicare changes that adjust how surgical procedures are defined will come into effect on July 1. The Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce recommended the changes and the Australian Medical Association is not happy, saying they’ll “cause chaos for patients”.
So, is this a routine, prudent update to Medicare, or a disaster that will harm patients? It depends who you ask.
Doctors are tradies. They sell parts and labour to the patient at whatever price they see fit. The patient receives a fixed rebate from Medicare to cover part of the cost. Bulk-billing refers to the scenario whereby the doctor agrees to sell his or her labour for the price of the Medicare rebate — the middle man (ahem, patient) is cut out and the doctor takes the payment directly from Medicare, which is billed in the form of an item number.
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