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Budget 2023: Millions of Aussies to get free doctor visits

Around 11.6 million Aussies will get free GP consultations.

Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers and Australian money notes.
Millions of Aussies will be eligible for free GP visits, under a new measure announced in the federal budget. (Source: AAP/Getty)

Around 11.6 million Aussies will find it easier to get free GP visits, under a major cost-of-living measure announced in the federal budget.

The government is investing $3.5 billion over five years to triple bulk billing incentives, with Treasurer Jim Chalmers calling it the “largest increase” to the incentive ever.

This will incentivise GPs to provide free consultations to millions of Aussies, the government said, including children, pensioners and other concession card holders.

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The rebate for GPs who bulk bill patients in capital cities will be increased from $6.60 to $20.65, for regional cities it will be increased from $10 to $30, and for remote communities from $12 to $39.

The incentives will cover many common GP consultations, including face-to-face, telehealth and videoconference consultations.

Who is eligible?

The change will apply to families with children under 16 years, pensioners and Commonwealth concession card holders.

According to the budget papers, there are around 5.1 million children under 16 who will be eligible and 7.9 million Commonwealth concession card holders.

The bulk billing incentive will continue to be higher for those in regional and rural areas.

When will it start?

The government said the measure would have “immediate benefits” for eligible Aussies, but did not provide a specific starting date.

What other health changes have been announced?

The government is also investing a further $358.5 million for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, including eight on top of those committed in the October budget. These clinics will bulk bill patients and stay open for longer hours.

From September 1, eligible Aussies will also be able to buy two months’ worth of medicines for the price of a single prescription. This will save general patients up to $180 per year per medicine, and concession card holders up to $43.80 per year per medicine.

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