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Health Centre bulk billing

By paperboy - 16 September 2009 35

It’s now been a couple of weeks since it was announced that the Phillip Medical Centre and Ginninderra Medical and Dental centre would start charging $30 for a standard weekday consultation and $40 for a weekend visit to the doctor.

At the time, the Phillip medical centre medical director Robert Allan told the Canberra Times it was a business decision because the owner of the practices Primary Health Care was making a loss.

Bulk-billing was to continue for children under 16 and pensioners or health care card holders, but as for ordinary working people there was going to be an up-front fee.

So for those who visit the centres, how’s it going?

Has it reduced the waiting time, or caused any angst among those having to pay.

And is there a refund from Medicare of that up-front fee?

What’s Your opinion?


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35 Responses to
Health Centre bulk billing
OzPhoenix 3:52 pm 16 Sep 09

Inappropriate said :

I have a feeling not many people will forwarding on those cheques…

That could be true. Why would people bother? It’s not like the Centre can come back and claim you stole money seeing it’s cheque (and one would guess made out to the centre).

This story gets better all the time. So it seems that basically you’re paying $30 for an ideally faster response (5 minutes mentioned above) emergency dept. that requires you to do work for them – as in, posting mail for them.

So I guess if you need to see a doctor quick, and have the money, you go there. If you can wait (because there are so few) and you like the continuity of seeing the same doctor you go to a GP. hmmmm… not sure if that appeals to me…

Wish I could just always go to my GP, but sometimes you ring up and can’t get an appointment because they’re booked out for a few days. So if you’re only sick for a couple of days and need a doctors cert. for work I guess you have no choice but to go to the Super Clinics. Then you just hope you don’t spend the day sitting around waiting (and thereby not resting so that you body can recover) – although maybe that’s not as long a wait as I thought.

Igglepiggle 3:31 pm 16 Sep 09

Medicare has a system in place wherein if the cheque isn’t banked by the practice witin a certain period of time (I think its 45 days) then the money gets paid straight to the practice and the cheque cancelled. People in general are notoriously bad at paying for a service after it has been received- ever wonder why so many practices are pay on the day only? ( and thats all health practices, not only doctors)

justbands 3:26 pm 16 Sep 09

> I thought the purpose of that centre was to provide at least one bulk billing service for non health care card holders in Belco. Back to Emergency it is.

Back to Emergency???? Half the problems we have are thanks to people with a sniffle crowding up the Emergency ward! Personally, I’d say if you earn a wage…then you can afford a GP. Find one, use them (& NOT the Emergency wards!), pay. Simple really.

Inappropriate 1:54 pm 16 Sep 09

I have a feeling not many people will forwarding on those cheques…

WanniAss 1:24 pm 16 Sep 09

barking toad said :

The $30/$40 is the payment balance after medicare rebate on the full fee.

This would mean that are not charging a set fee. I’m on the safety net and get a lot more back from a GP visit than the standard amount and would not be happy signing over all my rebate and then paying $30 on top

barking toad 1:16 pm 16 Sep 09

And #2 – “back to emergency” is exactly the attitude that is helping to fark our health system

Tony 1:15 pm 16 Sep 09

My GF went the other week and was charged the $30 on arrival. She was told that its not refundable by Medicare. She was also advised that a check from Medicare would be sent to her address, but its actually for the Medical Center so he had to bring it in. Anyone know what thats about?

RatsNest 12:42 pm 16 Sep 09

I went on first day of the new system, had to wait 5 mins to see a doc.

They explained the payment system to me and it seems a bit convoluted. I pay a $30 ‘gap’ and Medicare pays the doc the rest, so no rebate for me. The odd bit is that Medicare is supposed to send me the cheque for the rest of the money and then I have to forward that to the health centre?! Personally I am happy to do this but seems to me that a lot of people wouldn’t bother.

That said it has been weeks since I went and haven’t received the cheque yet so maybe that bit of info was wrong?

OzPhoenix 11:40 am 16 Sep 09

Around when this happened I was in need of a doctor. I thought seeing Phillip were now charging they would also offer the additional service of taking appointments – rather than just sitting and waiting. So I rang up to check, but only to find I was mistaken.

Instead I went in search of a local doctor near my new address. I eventually found one that was still taking new patients.

When I was there for my appointment, I overheard the secretary say that since Phillip started charging that they were getting calls from ~20 people a day. By fluke (as I was not looking for it) it turns out that my new doctor bulk bills, and potentially that was part cause of the influx. But they would only take me on after checking which suburb I lived in.

But it bugs me that somewhere like Phillip now expects you to pay, but you still can’t make an appointment. So those who are working are expected to pay, but are also expected to be able to sit around for indeterminate amounts of time and wait. ???

Mr Evil 11:14 am 16 Sep 09

“At the time, the Phillip medical centre medical director Robert Allan told the Canberra Times it was a business decision because the owner of the practices Primary Health Care was making a loss.”

Making a loss?

More likely, not making as huge a profit as they were hoping to!

YapYapYap 10:37 am 16 Sep 09

Primary’s interpretation of “making a loss” is a little confusing. According to it’s annual report:

(http://www.primaryhealthcare.com.au/IRM/Company/ShowPage.aspx?CPID=1650 PageName=Annual%20Report%202009),

reveues and profits from its health centre operations grew by 33%last year.

I’d love to suffer ‘losses’ of that order.

barking toad 10:21 am 16 Sep 09

The $30/$40 is the payment balance after medicare rebate on the full fee.

fnaah 9:40 am 16 Sep 09

I took it as a sign to go back to my family GP. Sure, he’s more expensive, but he actually treats me like a person and seems to genuinely care about my well-being.

prhhcd 8:55 am 16 Sep 09

My friend went yesterday and I was actually going to start a post today. She was there at 7.30 (opening time) and waited… 3 hrs to see a doc. Then got asked to pay $30. I thought the purpose of that centre was to provide at least one bulk billing service for non health care card holders in Belco. Back to Emergency it is.
Hope the ACT health dept steps in and does something.

Anna Key 7:02 am 16 Sep 09

If they are charging for a standard consultation, then it is refundable by Medicare. What is interesting is that $30 is less than the rebate for a standard consultation. So this is either an interesting business practice or its an admin charge which, I assume, isn’t refundable and they are double dipping by bulk billing medicare. I’m not sure how they can charge an up front fee under Medicare. Isn’t the fee supposed to reflect the length and complexity of the consultation?

I do attend the Phillip clinic but haven’t been since this started. Would also be interested in hearing people’s experiences.

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