TAMWORTH residents have lamented a lack of bulk-billing GP practices, with a trip to the doctor costing $30 out of the hip pocket.
But local doctor Ian Kamerman said GPs needed to be offered a “more reasonable income” to address the chronic shortage of GPs in Tamworth and rural areas.
“We can’t do that with a universally bulk-billing medical practice,” Dr Kamerman said.
“Unfortunately the government has chosen not to index or fund Medicare rebates since Medicare has been
introduced. That forced patients to pick up the tab on what medical services cost.”
He said the government had not funded Medicare properly since its inception and it was a mistake to fund procedures and specialties “at a much higher rate” than preventive care, such as a GP visit.
In letters to The Leader, locals were concerned they simply could not afford preventive treatment, which would cause greater health and financial woes in the long run.
Dr Kamerman said the tangled problems of fewer GPs and affordability were compounded for rural people, who experience poorer health and had lower incomes than people in the city.
He said apart from the Aboriginal Medical Service, no other practices in Tamworth universally bulk-billed their patients.