On Lane Cove Chat by ITC, members regularly ask for details on local medical practices that bulk bill in the Lane Cove Council area.
In early 2023, ITC could only find two bulk billing practices left in the Lane Cove Council area. In June 2023, only one bulk billing service will be left in the Lane Cove Council area.
Some practices may decide to bulk bill for an individual consultation, but this is usually at the doctor’s discretion.
Emerald Medical Practice – General Bulk Billing Ceased 1 June 2023*
On Thursday, April 6th 2023, the ITC phone pinged with messages informing us Emerald Medical Centre had sent out the following text:
“Due to rising costs, Emerald Medical Practice will be private billing from 1 June 2023. Please see our website for more information. Thank you for your understanding.
On its website, Emerald Medical Practice states:
“Since our beginning in 2010, Emerald Medical Practice has been a bulk billing practice. Over the past 15 years, Medicare rebates to medical practice, other CPI medical costs, everyday wages, and costs of everyday living. Therefore, for us to remain financially sustainable and provide the best possible health care to you that we want to provide, the practice has had to make them from 1 June 2023.” Read more here.
* Children under 16 yrs of age, Concession card holders and DVA are bulk billed
Where Can You Access a Bulk Billing Practice Near Lane Cove?
As far as ITC can discover, there is only one general bulk billing medical practice in the Lane Cove Council area, and they are so busy they are not taking on more patients and have asked us not to name them.
There are numerous practices in Lane Cove that will still bulk bill for concession card holders and children under 16 – but make sure you double-check when booking.
The following practices state on their websites that they offer general bulk billing:
Star Medical Shop 1/ 1 Help Street Chatswood NSW 2067
Bulk Bills for General enquires
Our Medical Crows Nest13-19 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Our Medical Crows Nest is open to 10 pm daily; Our Medical Crows Nest offers services that offer end-to-end care. Bulk billing GPs are available for in-person and remote consultations without the need for an appointment. Co-located services include dental clinic, radiology, pathology, physiotherapy, specialists and allied health.
Phone (02) 8880 0222
North Sydney Family Doctors is a medical practice in North Sydney in Greenwood Plaza Shop C12B 90 Pacific Highway North Sydney.
They offer bulk billing for everyone, including Medicare Card, Overseas Students, Visitors, and Temporary Residents.
Phone: 02 8313 0680
Bulk Billing for everyone, including Medicare Card, Overseas Students, Visitors, Temporary Residents
Note: parking can be expensive at Greenwood Plaza – so if you are well enough public transport may be the best option.
46-48 Blaxland Road corner of William St, Ryde, next to us is Late Night Chemist, Top Ryde Family Dental Practice and Active Motion Physiotherapy.
This is a bulk-billing practice. Appointments and walk-ins are welcome.
Onsite parking off street and rear, ramp and parking for disabled at rear entrance is also available.
Phone: 9807 4447
If you know of a local medical practice that is a general bulk billing medical practice, please email us at [email protected].
Please note that ITC has no affiliation with the practices mentioned above and has sourced the information from their websites.
Bulk Billing Declining Across Australia
Cleanbill is a for-profit website where you can search for free healthcare practitioners around you and filter the search results by price to find a practitioner that meets your affordability criteria. Healthcare professionals pay for featured listings to fund the site.
They have recently contacted 6,818 medical practitioners throughout Australia to obtain pricing details and to establish practitioners who bulk bill.
Cleanbill noted the following:
“ So, following the final indexation of Medicare rebates for 2023 on 1 November, we decided to re-find and re-call every clinic we could to get updated pricing and availability information.
All 6,818 of them.
And then we compared that data to the data that we got in the original 2023 Health of the Nation Report.
Not only does this Report paint the clearest picture yet of the state of general practice accessibility in Australia, but it also provides the first ever year-on-year consideration of accessibility of primary care in Australian history.
The trend it outlines is catastrophic.
Just 24.2% of GP clinics around the country that are taking on new patients still bulk bill everyone who walks through the door. And this rate has fallen over 11 percentage points over the course of 2023 alone.
At the over 75% of GP clinics that charge an out-of-pocket fee sits at $41.69, more than the Medicare rebate rate of $41.40 for a standard consultation, and up 3.5% since the start of 2023.
You can read the full Cleanbill 2024 Blue Report here.”
Lane Cove Council Discusses Lane Cove Bulk Billing Medical Practices
At the March 2023 Lane Cove Council Meeting, Mayor Andrew Zbik, Councillor Kathy Bryla, and Councillor David Roenfeldt tabled a Notice of Motion recommending Lane Cove Council write to the Federal Minister for Health and the local Federal Member of Parliament to urge them to review the Medicare rebate in regard to bulk billing.
The executive summary supporting the Notice of Motion included the following:
“This month I was contacted by a resident who expressed their shock and distress about the lack of bulk billing options for General Practitioners in Lane Cove. They have been a bulk billed patients at a local medical centre for seven years, but as of 3rd March, the centre will no longer offer bulk billing to anyone. After contacting four medical centres in Lane Cove, they discovered that none of them offers bulk billing to patients anymore. Only one Medical Practice out of nine Medical Practices in Lane Cove offers bulk billing to patients.
This situation creates a significant barrier for low-income earners in our area to access basic healthcare.
This motion aims to ensure that all members of the Lane Cove community, regardless of their financial situation, have access to the healthcare they need.
The Lane Cove community deserves access to affordable healthcare, and the lack of bulk billing general practices in our area is a significant barrier to achieving this goal.”
The Lane Cove Councillors resolved unanimously to adopt the Notice of Motion.
Why Are Doctors No Longer Bulk Billing?
In December 2022, the Medicare Taskforce Report was released. It outlines a vision for Australia’s primary care system of the future. The report recommends significant changes to how primary care is funded. The Federal Government is currently reviewing the report. Link to the report here.
The article quotes Dr Bruce Willett, the vice president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, who has been a GP for 35 years. Dr Willet says:
“One of the issues is that the Medicare system penalises doctors for spending longer with a patient,” Willett says. A doctor who manages five less-than-20-minute sessions in an hour, for example, would receive $198.75 from Medicare ($39.75 rebate per patient). But seeing two patients across that 60 minutes, for about half-an-hour each, would earn $153.90 ($76.95 rebate per patient) – a near $50 difference on their hourly rate.”
In April 2023, a research report released by Christopher Harrison, Julie Gordon, Joan Henderson, Graeme Miller, and Helena Britt found that General Practice billings potentially saved Medicare Over $351 Million (Under or over? General practitioner charging of Medicare published in the Australian Journal of General Practice).
The researchers calculated the cost/savings to Medicare from General Practitioner billing practices, according to the length of the consultation itself, have found that GPs frequently undercharge Medicare for patient consultations.
The study found that of 2,760 GPs, 84.6 per cent undercharged Medicare for at least one consultation within a sample of 40 consultations. The study also found GPs undercharged 11.8 percent of total consultations and only overcharged 1.6 percent.
The researchers estimate that GPs’ undercharging or overcharging resulted in an estimated saving of $351.7 million to Medicare in 2021- 2022.
“Our study has shown that GPs are more likely to err towards undercharging than to overcharging. This contrasts with previous research and reports alleging widespread fraud related to GP billing of Medicare,” said lead author Dr Christopher Harrison from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Sydney.
“General practice is in crisis. Allegations of fraud have been damaging to a workforce that is struggling to attract medical graduates to general practice.”
“While some GPs may undercharge Medicare for altruistic reasons and others because they still consider the complexity of care when determining the Medicare item charged, we believe that a major reason GPs undercharge, even for long consultations, is the fear of being audited.”
“We hope that these results will help inform the current discussion around how to strengthen Medicare and primary care in particular.”
“Evidence shows, time and time again, that a strong primary care system lowers the cost of care while providing better health outcomes for all.”
Do you like reading free and independent local news?
Thank you to our amazing ITC readers; ITC has reached a critical point where we know you like reading our articles and engaging with us on social media. However, we need more staff to provide even better local coverage.
Become an ITC Supporter – it’s easy. You pledge as much or as little as you like – just hit Become a Supporter button, and you will be able to sell your support – it can be a one-off payment, a small monthly payment or an annual payment – as we say, no amount is too small or too Big – Support us here – head to this page and hit Support Local News.