Patients to pay more to visit the doctor in Gladstone

WHILE the cost of healthcare is set to go up, it's the lack of availability of specialists in Gladstone that is making things difficult, according to local doctors.

Patients in Gladstone could be slugged an extra $2 per GP session after the Australian Medical Association recommending private doctors lift rates to $73, with a freeze on Medicare rebate indexing meaning less than half of the cost will be covered.

The AMA announced on Wednesday the rates would go up, expressing their concern that the Medicare rebate would in effect be frozen until July 1 next year.

"The MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule) simply has not kept pace with the complexity or cost of providing high-quality medical services," AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said.

"The difference between patients' medical fees and Medicare rebates will be greater because of the freeze but, despite the widening gap, doctors have kept medical fee increases to a minimum."

However, Gladstone GP Super Clinic director Dr John Bird thinks it's a lack of specialists in Gladstone forcing up the price of medical care, rather than any freezing of the rebate.

"I agree that indexation has been out of step with any sort of measure of inflation, and that's an ongoing situation," he said.

"However, the bigger issue right now is a shortage of specialists in Gladstone, and that goes to access of care."

The previous federal government put the freeze on the rate of the rebate rising, meaning that while the cost of medical expenses has gone up, the level of compensation available from the government will not until next year.

It is thought about 81% of doctors across the nation bulk-bill patients.

Are visits to the doctor getting too expensive?

This poll ended on 16 November 2013.

Current Results

Yes. It's hard if you're on a tight budget

31%

No. There is bulk billing for low income earners

0%

Yes. The Medicare rebate should increase

43%

I'm more concerned about the lack of specialists

25%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.