Going to the doctor will be more expensive from November.
Going to the doctor will be more expensive from November. Contributed

GP fees set to rise in November

A VISIT to your Bundaberg doctor will cost you more from next month as the Australian Medical Association recommends an increase for a standard consultation.

The country's peak medical body is recommending GPs raise their fees to $78 for a standard visit under 20 minutes up from $76 last year.

The AMA says the Federal Government's freeze on Medicare is to blame but Health Minister Sussan Ley says it's up to doctors how much they charge.

The Federal Government has frozen the Medicare rebate at $37, last indexed in 2014, until 2020.

This means patients whose doctors do not bulk bill will have an out-of-pocket expense of about $41

AMA vice president Dr Tony Bartone said the freeze was an enormous burden on hardworking GPs.

"Practices cannot continue absorbing the increasing costs of providing quality care year after year," he said.

Dr Bartone argues practice costs, such as wages for practice staff, rent, electricity, computers, continuing professional development, accreditation, and professional insurance - must all be met from the single fee charged by the doctor.

"The Medicare Benefits Schedule simply has not kept pace with the complexity or cost of providing high quality medical services," he said.

"Many patients will pay more to see their doctor because of the Medicare freeze. It is inevitable that many GPs will need to review their decision to bulk bill some of their patients."

Dr Bartone warns that patients may forego seeing a doctor as result of the increase.

But Ms Ley says that bulk-billing rates have never been higher sitting at 81.5% for Australian consultations last year.

Doctors argue bulk-billing rates have dropped since the federal election as GPs move to a new fee structure in the new financial year.

AMA says instead of looking at bulk-billing rates as a measure of success, we should be carefully monitoring the out-of-pocket health expenses in Australia.

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