16 February 2024

RACGP backs CHF calls for public education on Medicare

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has thrown its support behind the Consumer Health Forum’s calls for the Australian Government to fund public education that fully explains the Medicare system to the public. 

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said public education on Medicare could help people navigate the health system better and improve their health. 

“We’re living in an age where people are being swamped with pseudo health advice and marketing for products and services which aren’t evidence-based and could be dangerous. Improving health literacy is essential to ensure people know where to turn for expert health advice to live healthier – that is their GP,” she said. 

“Our health system is incredibly complex, and there is very low health literacy in Australia. 

“If people had a better understanding of Medicare and health literacy, they would be better equipped to navigate the system and improve their health. Many Australians simply don’t understand Medicare. When it started in 1984, it was designed to subsidise the costs of patient care by about 85%, and the patient paid the rest, which is the gap or ‘out-of-pocket' fee. 

“So, Medicare rebates belong to the patient – it’s the government’s subsidy, to help pay for your care. 

“Like everything else, healthcare is becoming more expensive. With other cost of living pressures, it’s more important than ever that Australians have a sound understanding of Medicare, so they can manage their health and stay well.  

“If people manage their health with their GP, they’re less likely to go to hospital, and it will help their hip pocket, as well as government budgets and taxpayers.  

“Significant reforms to Medicare are occurring that many people aren't aware of. Peoples’ entitlements are expanding with MyMedicare, but having a regular GP or practice is essential to access these entitlements. This reform is about improving health and wellbeing – the research shows having a regular GP results in better health and satisfaction.” 

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