JUST seven clinics in the New England region offer bulk billing to adults, according to a report calling itself the first comprehensive survey of GP clinic availabilities and billing practices in Australian history.
The average cost for a standard consultation in the region is $83.98, Cleanbill's Health of the Nation report found.
The percentage of quoted clinics not taking new patients is 70.3 per cent, the bulk billing rate is 26.9 per cent, and the average out-of-pocket cost for a standard consultation in New England is $44.23.
Cleanbill, a healthcare directory, has also collected basic information for practices in order for people to filter them online on price of basic services.
The collated data suggests within a 50 km radius of the city of Tamworth exists a single service offering bulk billing to adults.
The head office for Prime Medic's national manager Nicholas Taylor, is based in Tamworth.
Mr Taylor told the Leader the service can only offer bulk billing outside of regular hours.
Sick people can use bulk billing services through Prime Medic with telehealth calls after 11pm, or through 13CURE, a home doctor service linked with local GP services from 6pm through to 8am.
Mr Taylor said after hours services, which visit 400 - 450 patients a month in Tamworth, are a stopgap service, and a follow up appointment with a regular GP is recommended.
The service can offer bulk billing because the Medicare rebate after hours is enough to cover costs, Mr Taylor said.
"Your rates for night time billing aren't too bad, but your daytime billing definitely, definitely, definitely needs adjusting for GPs," he said.
When Dr Daniel Rankmore joined Tamworth's Barton Lane Practice as a GP in 2014, it did not offer bulk billing to adults.
The practice wouldn't be able to have much of its facilities and support staff if it bulk billed, he said.
Dr Rankmore explains Medicare offers a standard consultation rebate, but concessions receive a sum on top, which allows many practices to offer bulk billing to children, the elderly, and people who are pregnant.
The Royal Australian College of GPs wants to triple what is offered for a standard consultation to allow bulk billing to become accessible to adults, Dr Rankmore said.
"I think if they did something like that, you would see an increase in bulk billing," he said.
A Strengthening Medicare Taskforce report was delivered to the government in December 2022 recommending priorities for investment in primary care, and the government will deliver its response in the May 2023-24 budget.
Dr Rankmore said the government's consistently said that Medicare rebates aren't going to simply increase.
"What we're expecting is that there probably will be an increase in funding, but it will look very different," he said.
Dr Rankmore is calling for clarity on payroll tax, which he said could increase costs on general practice.
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