Almost nine out of ten visits to the GP across Australia over the year to September were provided at no cost to the patient.
For GP services, the bulk-billing rate for the 12 months to September 2020 was 88.7 per cent. This was 2.6 percentage points higher than over the previous year.
In total, Medicare services increased to 433.3 million with total benefits reaching $25.3 billion.
Today’s figures show the Morrison Government’s rapid response to the pandemic allowed Australians to access the health care they needed, despite the challenges of COVID-19.
Temporary changes to Medicare introduced in response to the pandemic contributed to high bulk billing, while also reducing the risk of spreading the disease in the community.
The Government mandated GP telehealth services be bulk billed for vulnerable patients. The Government also temporarily doubled its bulk billing incentive payments to GPs, and expanded the types of services eligible for the incentive payments.
By the end of September, Medicare had paid benefits for 2.5 million COVID-19 video consultations and 30.4 million COVID-19 phone consultations provided by GPs, specialists and allied health professionals.
The temporary telehealth items represented 16.7 per cent of GP consultations and 7.6 per cent of all Medicare services over the year to September. In total, 26.6 million GP consultations were provided via phone and 814,068 via video over the year.
The temporary telehealth items played a critical role in the Government’s response to COVID-19. They allowed patients to access essential health care while minimising the risk of community transmission of the virus.
The Morrison Government has a rock solid commitment to Medicare as the foundation of our world-class health system. I intend for telehealth to be a positive legacy of this crisis and continue to work on a long-term plan, in consultation with the medical community.