Log in with your email address username.

×

Important notice

doctorportal Learning is on the move as we will be launching a new website very shortly. If you would like to sign up to dp Learning now to register for CPD learning or to use our CPD tracker, please email support@doctorportal.com.au so we can assist you. If you are already signed up to doctorportal Learning, your login will work in the new site so you can continue to enrol for learning, complete an online module, or access your CPD tracker report.

To access and/or sign up for other resources such as Jobs Board, Bookshop or InSight+, please go to www.mja.com.au, or click the relevant menu item and you will be redirected.

All other doctorportal services, such as Find A Doctor, are no longer available.

Until the pips squeak

- Featured Image

Freezing the price of Medicare benefits will be more effective than the ill fated copayment

An amendment to our constitution after the 1946 referendum (s51 [xxiiiA]) gave the Australian Government the power to set prices for medical services.1 This amendment has often been incorrectly interpreted as the power to set doctors’ fees. It is frustrating to see old misunderstandings distorting current considerations of health financing policy.

In reality, the federal government has no control over whether a doctor charges $5 or $500; nor to whom such a fee is charged. Doctors can charge what they choose, provided it can be justified as “fair and reasonable”.

Dabbling in price signals

For the best part of a year, the health debate has swirled around a proposed copayment for general practice services.2 All the government needed to do, if it was seeking to reduce Medicare outlays on general practice services, was to reduce the price it pays for those services. That was the apparent basis for the ill fated initiative in January 2015, directed at the short consultation. Getting into an area of price signals by unnecessarily flagging a copayment simply complicates matters.

When, in 2005, the government removed the disincentives for bulk-billing by allowing these services to be priced at 100% (ie, the Medicare rebate for…

email