Friday, May 31, 2013

quicko: bulk biled

I really don't understand how this works, mostly probably because it doesn't apply to me, but the gist of it is that, if you're on Medicare (Australia's medical system, which is lovely for recipients), when something medical is "bulk billed," you don't have to pay (presumably the government does).  From what I gather, you've to pay a bit first, but if it goes over a certain threshold or something, then you don't.  Though I think that threshold varies based on ... what kind of medical treatment you're getting?


Erin said...

The government covers a certain amount of every doctor visit. Most doctors charge a bit extra - a "gap" payment. Our doctors gap is around $50. What most doctors do is offer bulk billing for patients who are on a welfare payment. I have definitely heard of doctors who will choose to bulk bill people who they perceive as being in need, and christian doctors will often bulk bill ministry families. Some practices bulk bill everyone - although I have no idea if that still happens. I live in the country and they are smaller offices, so couldn't afford to I imagine.

Laetitia :-) said...

Bulk-billing refers to the Medicare system whereby doctors send a bulk lot of bills (invoices) to the federal government to pay rather than having the recipient of the medical treatment pay (since we've paid for it in income tax via the Medicare Levy). If a doctor bulk-bills then the recipient pays nothing.

As the amount the gov't pays doctors is relatively low, a number of doctors will charge a rate higher than the Medicare payment. The patient either pays the difference up-front at the doctor's surgery (electronic system charges the fed gov't and the patient pays the difference) or alternatively, the patient pays the entire amount then takes the form to Medicare for reimbursement.

In terms of benefit to the patient, the order is a bulk-billing doctor (more common in lower socio-economic areas) followed by one who charges the difference between the Medicare fee and their rate, followed by paying the entire amount upfront and getting reimbursed by Medicare. This is because, very oddly and very annoyingly, Medicare only pay patients 85% of the standard Medicare fee that they would pay the doctor if the doctor charged them directly. Go figure.

The Medicare Levy applies to resident taxpayers regardless of whether they are Australian citizens and therefore eligible for Medicare cover. If you have applied for a permanent residency visa or are a citizen of another country that has a reciprocal medical care agreement with Australia then you may be eligible for a Medicare card.