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Government to Fix Hole in Medicare Safety Net04 August 2004
Health Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to fix a hole in the Medicare safety net which doctors are using to ramp up their own fees.
The Department of Health and Ageing has been ordered to find ways to stop medical specialists changing their fee structures to exploit the safety net.
The safety net was established to cover 80 per cent of out-of-pocket costs about $300 annual for most families and pensioners and above $700 for others.
Some medical specialists have realised that if they adjust the bills they charge patients, dropping those for in-patient services (not covered by the safety net) and increasing those for consultations before(covered by the safety net) they can make more money.
Patients who are eligible for the safety net do not suffer because they are able to get money back from the government.
The use of the loophole has raised conerns that the $110 million annual cost of the Medicare safety net will blow out dramatically.
The Government established the Medicare safety net as part of its changes to Medicare, claiming it would protect consumers who faced high medical bills.
But Labor has pledged to abolish it, saying that its Medicare reforms will mean that it is not necessary.
Read what the parties are promising on Health and Medicare
Health Services Union of Australia
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