Bulk billing for doctor visits rising in Australia

Peter Terlato 30 August 2016


Almost two-thirds of Australians use at least one medical or health service a month.

Bulk billing for doctor visits is thriving, with proportionately fewer Australians paying out of pocket for appointments now than a decade ago.

New data released by Roy Morgan Research reveals in the 12 months to March 2016 just 27.6% of Aussie adults paid for a doctor's visit in an average four weeks.

Comparatively, over the same period to June 2007, 31.8% coughed up for a visit to their local GP or specialist.

High-income earners enjoyed the most significant drop in out-of-pocket expenses over the last 10 years. In 2007 nearly 45% of Australians earning between $150,000 and $199,000 paid for a doctor's visit in an average four weeks, whereas in 2016 just 29.8% of these people forked out for medical costs.

As it was a decade earlier, those earning less than $50,000 continue to be the least likely (24.4%) to pay for a visit to the doctor.

Although we're paying less for visits, those earning between $200,000 and $249,999 frequented the doctor's more often in 2016 (47.4%) than in 2007 (39.9%).

Almost two thirds (63%) of Aussies use at least one medical or health service, paid or unpaid, in an average four weeks.

Just over half (50.4%) of all Australian adults visit the doctor, while significantly less people see a dentist/orthodontist (11.8%) or undergo medical imaging such as CT scans or X-rays (11.1%).

Ever wonder exactly what Medicare covers? Free health care in Government funded public hospitals, a rebate on the expenses incurred when visiting a doctor, and subsidises the cost of essential medications.

Even if you have private health insurance, it can be difficult to find out what costs are involved for seeing specialists.

Average out-of-pocket payments for medical services in the second quarter of 2016 were $136. The medical specialty with the greatest out-of-pocket payment was plastic/reconstructive surgery with an average gap of $349, followed by orthopaedic with an average gap payment of $344.

Expensive medical procedures are driving up the price of Australian health insurance policies and deterring chronically ill Aussies from seeking healthcare.

But if you're a woman in Australia, new research suggests you're likely more concerned with managing your weight than being diagnosed with cancer.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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