19 May 2014
This special NRHA policy paper analyses the Budget 2014-15 proposal for a seven dollar co-payment for bulk-billed GP services and a higher patient charge for other GP services. These measures would result in a doubling of average out-of-pocket costs for each GP consultation in all geographical areas. People in rural and remote areas already have poorer access to GPs, experience a range of socio-economic disadvantages and miss medical services or medications at a higher rate than people in the cities. The consequences of poor access to primary health care include higher rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations outside the cities. Reducing access to primary care for the poorest and sickest people in the country would be unfair and - if the aim is to reduce total expenditure on health care - ineffective.