30 May 2014
United General Practice Australia (UGPA) is today calling for an overhaul of the general practice co-payment model that was proposed in the May Budget. UGPA is concerned about the impact of the proposed GP co-payment on the most vulnerable patients. The model must be fairer and support the delivery of health care for vulnerable patients, including those at the poverty line, the chronically ill, those in aged care facilities, and Indigenous patients.
UGPA is keen to engage with the Government to find a workable solution. UGPA is not against private billing, in principle, for those who can afford it.
UGPA highlights that general practice patient services in Australia are underfunded. The Budget cuts to Medicare rebates are a further disinvestment in general practice health services, which, combined with the co-payment, make it harder for vulnerable people to see their doctor when they need care and advice.
The Government's model will result in additional red tape and require practices to put in place extra infrastructure and staffing to implement this proposed model.
The experience in Germany is that co-payments do not reduce presentations overall, but impact on those people who are most vulnerable.
Overseas evidence also shows that better health outcomes are delivered when barriers to primary care are low.
Front line primary care services are very efficient and are a low cost part of the Australian health system.
Encouraging patients to access this part of the health system reduces pressure on the hospital sector and can avoid the need for more expensive medical interventions.