Australians hurt by Medicare rebate freeze

From today, hundreds of thousands of Australians will be forced to pay out of pocket fees for a basic doctor visit, as a result of the Abbott Government’s four-year freeze on doctor’s Medicare rebates.

The Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Lee Thomas, described the rebate freeze as “another damaging version of the much-maligned GP tax”.

“It’s estimated that around 5 per cent of basic health services for non-concessional, bulk-billing patients will be privately billed, which means that an increasing number of Australians will be forced to pay up front every time they visit the doctor for everyday consultations which were previously bulk-billed,” Ms Thomas said today.

“The Government may have failed in their attempt at introducing a $7 GP tax but they have managed to slug people with another out pocket medical expense using this freeze on Medicare rebates.

“The fact is, any form of co-payment like this will hurt Australians across the community.

“Australians already suffer some of the highest out of pocket medical expenses in the world and from today the Government is making us all pay even more for basic health services.

“This latest version of a GP tax will continue to undermine Medicare and open the door for future, higher out of pocket expenses for Australian health consumers and their families.

“Nurses and midwives continue to be concerned that under this Government, Australians are being lead into a privatised US-style health system, where people only get care if they can afford to pay for it.”

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