Despite excessive prices charged by some general practitioners, the bulk-billing rate in Australia has reached a record figure in 2016-2017 based on a Medicare report.
If you live in Queensland, the prices charged by a dental professional in Brisbane could be less affordable than a dentist in Townsville. Bulk billing, as Casey Dentists explains, provides patients with assurance that they will not have fork out money under Medicare rules.
Bulk billing makes more sense today, as many adults skip a dental appointment not because of their fear of the dentist, but due to the rising costs of treatment. Around one out of five Australians has not had the recommended treatment because of this, and the statistics are even worse for those who live in remote areas.
It’s unsurprising that rural dwellers have the highest number of complete tooth loss. The irony, though, involves an oversupply of dentists in the country where 80% work in private practice in urban areas. There are still some practitioners in suburban areas that cater to bulk billing patients, but more should be done to reach poorer communities.
The Australian government covered $19 billion of outpatient medical services in 2016-2017, yet patients spent $3 billion during the same period for so-called gap payments. Some are fortunate enough to afford these out-of-pocket expenses, but most people decided not to see a general practitioner to avoid paying for medical services.
In fact, there were 1.3 million Australians who didn’t seek medical care even when necessary. An expanded program for more non-hospital services seems the plausible choice, especially since private insurance often doesn’t cover unexpected treatment.
Patients should be aware of how much they have to spend on certain treatment. Those who need dental procedures don’t have to worry about paying even a single cent with Medicare, although it requires effort on their part to know the best practitioners who accept bulk billing.