The Medicare funded after hours home doctor service is under threat.
Late last year the Australian Government announced it would cut the Medicare rebate paid to doctors who see patients at home during after-hours from $129.80 to $100. The rebate will be cut again to $90 on 1 January 2019.
This decision comes after a recommendation made by the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce to cut the rebate as it doesn’t ‘represent good value for money to taxpayers’.
The industry has argued these services save the health system more than they cost, because many of the patients would otherwise go to emergency which is vastly more expensive.
Since the rebate cut many home doctors’ services have had to close down as it has become more difficult to recruit and retain doctors to make these visits.
This represents a big loss to communities, particularly to the very young and elderly who make up the majority of patients. Over one million people use the service every year and this figure has until recently been steadily increasing.
Without the option of after-hours home visits some may simply take the risk of not seeking care when their GP is closed.
Ask your GP for the number of a service you can ring if you or someone else needs to see a doctor urgently and your GP is closed.