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What to do if your GP charged you for your COVID-19 vaccine

·4-min read
(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

Millions of Australians are being urged to come forward and receive a COVID-19 vaccine, with authorities reminding Australians that there is no fee attached and clinics trying to charge patients are doing the wrong thing.

Stories have emerged of some unscrupulous private GPs charging consultation fees for people coming in to get their free COVID-19 vaccinations.

While it’s common knowledge that it’s free to get the vaccine itself, some private clinics have been caught out charging patients fees.

Read more:

But the Government is clear about this: that’s not allowed.

“Vaccination providers can’t charge you for the COVID-19 vaccines or your appointments to receive the vaccines,” Services Australia states on its website.

The Department of Health also says the same thing.

If you’re going into a GP or clinic solely for the purpose of your vaccine appointment, you simply cannot be charged.

But if you go in for anything else, for any other health concerns, that’s a separate matter and you’ll have to pay the consultation or appointment costs according to the clinic or GP fees.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 03:  A pop-up walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Parry Park Sports Centre in Lakemba is seen near empty on August 03, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
A pop-up walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Parry Park Sports Centre in Lakemba. (Source: Getty)

“If you consult your GP for issues not about the COVID-19 vaccination, you will be charged their normal fee for that,” the Department of Health states.

“Your GP will let you know that you will receive a separate bill, and will make sure you agree to any associated costs and payments.”

What you can do if you’re charged for your COVID-19 vaccine

If you’ve had to fork out any money at all in the process of getting your vaccine, the Department of Health encourages you to report it.

“If your vaccination provider charges for any costs associated with the administration of the COVID-19 vaccination (including booking fees), you should contact us by emailing provider.benefits.integrity@health.gov.au,” the Department of Health said.

Alternatively, you can also ring the Provider Benefits Integrity Hotline on 1800 314 808.

The hotline operates between 9am to 5pm AEST on weekdays.

NSW’s Campsie clinic forced to refund patients after charging them

A Campsie clinic in Sydney’s southwest attracted major backlash after AAP revealed a woman in her 20s was told she had to pay $250 to receive the Pfizer Jab.

Blessed Health Care operates two clinics in Campsie. Evaline Street clinic’s Dr Ben Ang defended the move, saying the clinic was serving a marginalised community.

"We are not the villain, we are the helper," he said.

A nurse at Blessed Health Care’s Anglo Street clinic said the practice couldn’t provide the vaccine to new patients without first noting medical history and therefore charging for a consultation.

But after receiving backlash online, the clinic is reportedly refunding patients who had to pay, said Cumberland councillor Kun Huang.

There are now concerns patients who have had the first Pfizer dose will struggle to receive a second, after signs posted outside the two clinics said the Government would likely stop providing the clinics with Pfizer doses.

Responding to revelations about the consultation charges, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt vowed to crack down on any GPs doing similarly.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 13: Minister for Health Greg Hunt delivers a COVID-19 update in the Blue Room at Parliament House on May 13, 2021 in Canberra, Australia.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt has vowed to "throw the book" at GPs charging patients for vaccine consults. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

“This is plain bad behaviour,” Hunt said last week.

“If we can have the details, we will chase up the GP and if that story is accurate, we'll throw the book at them.

“​​And the reason why is very simple: the vaccine is free.”

He added that the Government was reimbursing clinics to ensure people aren’t left out-of-pocket.

“The consultations for the vaccine are paid to be bulk-billed – in other words, to be free.”

The Federal Government has invested around $10 billion into the vaccine rollout to ensure free vaccines and free consultations through Medicare.

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