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Aussies skipping the doctor to save money: ‘Scary’

Nearly one in five Aussies have avoided going to the doctor.

Australian money notes. Australian people on the street. Saving money concept.
Aussies are delaying going to the doctor due to cost-of-living pressures. (Source: Getty)

Aussies have stopped spending money on entertainment, holidays, hair appointments and car services to save money. But it’s not just non-essentials Aussies are ditching.

New research from Compare the Market revealed nearly one in five Aussies had delayed going to the doctor in the past three months due to cost-of-living pressures.

In last week’s federal budget, Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced the incentive paid to doctors who bulk-billed certain patients would be tripled.

But Compare the Market’s Chris Ford noted not every GP would start bulk billing again, with some struggling to keep up with the cost of running a practice.

“Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet that’s going to fix this issue anytime soon, which is scary to think, considering almost a fifth of Australians are foregoing vital GP visits because they simply can’t afford it,” Ford said.

“Health care is paramount. No Australian should have to put off their GP check-up because they can’t afford it.”

Ford said the outlook may be worse for people who needed to visit a specialist or undergo a potential operation.

“If your specialist charges more than the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee, you may have to pay out-of-pocket costs,” Ford said.

“Your out-of-pocket cost is the difference between the amount charged, and the combined amount paid by Medicare and, if you have health insurance, your insurer.”

If you have health insurance, Ford said you may be covered for some hospital charges depending on your level of cover.

What are the changes to bulk billing?

From November 1, the amount of money the government pays GPs who choose to bulk bill certain patients will triple.

The government said the move would benefit more than 11 million people, including families with children aged under 16, pensioners and Commonwealth Concession Card holders.

It will cover many common GP consultations, including face-to-face, telehealth and video-conference consultations.

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