Common heart test cover removed from Medicare

Article published 26 August 2020

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THE Australian Government has made changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule that will mean pensioners reliant on Medicare may be out of pocket if they need a common heart test.

As of 1 August 2020, Medicare will not pay for GPs to interpret common heart tests called electrocardiograms (ECGs).

ECGs are tracings of the heart’s electrical activity. If you have ever watched a medical drama television show and seen a flatline on a screen change to a wobbly line when a patient is resuscitated, then you have seen an ECG machine.

ECGs are used by GPs to detect issues such as heart attacks and unusual heart rhythms which is important for measuring the risk of stroke.

The changes will restrict the funding of interpretation and reporting of ECGs to specialists. So, if you do get an ECG at the GP you may be out of pocket and if you are referred to a specialist for an ECG you will definitely be out of pocket.

The Federal Opposition, the Australian Medical Association, Royal Australian College of GPs and Rural Doctors Association have all written to the Federal Health Minister expressing their concern with this change.

Despite this concern the change was not reversed but will be reviewed in six months’ time.

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