As a clinic we have made the difficult decision to change our billing policy as of the 1st of July 2023.
The change will mean all patients will be charged a gap fee for each appointment. Concession, Seniors and Health Care card holders will be charged a discounted gap fee of approximately $25. We will continue to bulk bill chronic disease care plans and script only/swift clinic/flu clinic appointments.
There are a number of reasons for this change of policy.
When we bulk bill, the doctor and practice accept the Medicare rebate as payment for our services. As you may be aware, for many years Medicare rebates have not kept up with the cost of running a general practice (CPI for health is 5.1% and Medicare rebates increased by just 1.6% from July 2022). The general practice crisis is a major topic which has been extensively covered by the media.
These gap fees will allow us to continue to provide the best healthcare service possible and help to cover the rising cost of practice rooms, doctors, administration staff, nurses, medical consumables and equipment.
Over the past several years there have been increasing demands and pressure on our current doctors, with local GP shortages exacerbating this. GP shortages have occurred, in part, due to the decrease in doctors entering the GP specialist training program. We want to provide a sustainable service to our patients which means attracting more doctors to work with us. This is more likely to happen if the GPs are able to deliver services in a sustainable and financially viable model.
We are hoping the new Federal Government proposal that focusses on changes to bulk billing incentives for eligible patients will pass in November 2023. Should this occur, we will be reviewing our billing policy.
We encourage you to speak with our General Manager if you have any concerns about these updates. Any genuine hardship cases will be directed to our Operations Manager.
This difficult decision has not been made lightly by the Angaston Medical Centre board and management team. Apart from one other practice, we are the last general practice in the Barossa, Gawler and Light region to cease bulk billing. Therefore, we appreciate your support and understanding.
We look forward to continuing to provide you with exceptional, high quality medical care.