Medicare rates surge across health system

cost of healthcare

Essential medical care is more affordable than ever before with the number of Australians receiving essential medical care with no out of pocket cost continuing to rise.

Reportedly, across all Medicare services, the bulk billing rate reached a record high of 83.5% in the December quarter of 2021, an increase of 6.5% since 2012-13 when Labor was last in government. Over the 2021 calendar year, the overall bulk-billing rate was 81.9%, compared to 81.4% in 2020.

The number of services being bulk-billed has also risen, with 413.2 million medical services being bulk billed to Medicare in 2021, 54.9 million more than 2020.

GP bulk billing rates remain at record high levels, sitting at 88.4% in the December quarter of 2021. This is 0.3% higher than the December 2020 quarter and 6.4% higher than December 2012. Over the 2021 calendar year, the GP bulk-billing rate was 88.7, 6.9% higher than in 2012.

This means almost nine out of 10 visits to the GP over the 2021 calendar year were provided with no out-of-pocket cost for the patient. This included 165.6 million fully subsidised GP services, a rise of 17 million or 11.4 per cent compared to 2020.

The introduction of telehealth, which is now a permanent feature of Medicare, continues to have a critical role in maintaining patients’ access to care. Since its inception in March 2020, over 96 million telehealth services have been delivered to 16.8 million patients. Just under $5 billion in Medicare benefits have been paid (exclusive of bulk-billing incentives).

In 2021, Medicare paid benefits for 4.1 million video consultations and 41.6 million phone consultations enabled in response to Covid-19 and provided by GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, says the Morrison Government’s commitment to Medicare is rock solid and we continue to support the health and wellbeing of Australians more than ever.

“Through the 2021-22 Budget, our Government is investing $125.7 billion, up over $6 billion over the forward estimates, as part of our ongoing commitment to guarantee Medicare,” says Minister Hunt.

“This increased investment in Medicare also includes more than $65 million from 1 January 2022 to boost bulk billing rebates and provide more affordable healthcare, particularly for patients in regional, rural, and remote areas.

“Bulk billing rates continue at record highs under the Morrison Government compared to when Labor was last in government.”