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How much should you pay to visit the GP?

  • October 06 2020
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How much should you pay to visit the GP?

By Cameron Micallef
October 06 2020

Australians visiting their local GP are willing to pay more for a longer consultation time or a shorter waiting time, according to new research.

How much should you pay to visit the GP?

How much should you pay to visit the GP?

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  • October 06 2020
  • Share

Australians visiting their local GP are willing to pay more for a longer consultation time or a shorter waiting time, according to new research.

How much should you pay to visit the GP?

A study by Monash University has revealed a new modelling system which allowed Australians to choose how much they would pay for a visit to the GP.

The survey of 1,457 Australians found that 39 per cent of patients would prefer to set their own out-of-pocket payment than to be bulk billed or pay the compulsory gap that many GPs currently charge.

According to Associate Professor Duncan Mortimer from the centre of health economics, the proposal does not mean GPs would see patients for “free”.

The GP would continue to get the Medicare rebate for each patient. It is the out-of-pocket or gap payment that would then be determined by the patient.

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“Our results suggest that patient-chosen prices for primary care could generate an extra $1.48 billion in revenue and incentivise patient-centred care without the need for complex ‘outcomes-based funding’ formulae,” Associate Professor Mortimer said.

Co-author Dr Daniel Epstein, a GP and PhD student at Monash’s Department of General Practice, said that on average the survey showed that patients would be willing to make voluntary and patient-chosen payments of $25 in return for shorter waiting times and longer consultations.

However, the survey result revealed a social divide, with people with money willing to pay for these shorter waiting times and longer consultations. 

“Given the choice, women in more affluent areas were more willing to pay a little extra, while men in disadvantaged areas were more likely to stick with bulk-billed services,” Dr Epstein said.

According to the researchers, GP groups have long argued the Medicare rebate is insufficient to cover costs, and that it doesn’t reflect the value of GP visits to patients.

Dr Epstein said a patient-chosen gap payment could provide a happy medium between compulsory out-of-pocket payments and bulk billing.

“There’s always a fine balance between providing good patient-centred GP care without limiting access to people based on their ability to pay,” he said.

“Patients’ willingness to make voluntary contributions may come as a surprise. Our research found, given the choice, women in more affluent areas were more willing to pay a little extra, while men in disadvantaged areas were more likely to stick with bulk-billed services.”

How much should you pay to visit the GP?
How much should you pay to visit the GP?
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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