Page 2156 - Week 07 - Thursday, 29 June 2023

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Health—bulk billing

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (3.37): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes that:

(a) general practitioners (GPs) are the most used healthcare service by Australians;

(b) the ACT has a lower rate of bulk billing GPs than other Australian states and territories;

(c) data for 2021-22 from the Federal Department of Health and Aged Care shows that the ACT has:

(i) the lowest proportion of patients that are always bulk billed at 37.6 percent, compared to a national average of 64.3 percent;

(ii) the highest proportion of patients who are never bulk billed at 20.6 percent, compared to a national average of 7.1 percent; and

(iii) a higher than national average proportion of patients who are sometimes bulk billed, at 18.7 percent, compared to 8.2 percent;

(d) a higher than average proportion of patients bulk billed “sometimes” may indicate that patients in the ACT are more likely to be bulk billed at the discretion of their general practitioner (GP) depending on their particular circumstances—many patients rely on a GP’s good will and understanding of their individual circumstances, such as poverty or financial hardship, in order to access services at a bulk billed or an affordable reduced rate;

(e) data from Cleanbill shows that the ACT has the lowest proportion of clinics who bulk bill all patients at 5.5 percent and the highest out of pocket costs, compared to other states and territories;

(f) the ACT and other jurisdictions are experiencing a cost of living crisis that is exacerbating existing inequalities and seeing an increasing number of people slipping into precarity and poverty;

(g) across Australia, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics from 2021-22 showed that of people who felt they needed to see a GP, 28 percent delayed or did not see a GP:

(i) 3.5 percent of people delayed or did not seek care because of cost;

(ii) other reasons include that services required were not available, wait times were too long, and people experienced a dislike or fear of the service; and

(iii) 80 percent of people have a preferred GP but 33 percent of people could not see their preferred GP on one or more occasion; and

(h) increasing access to primary healthcare such as general practice decreases pressure on, and the cost of managing, public tertiary healthcare, such as emergency hospital presentations;

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