People in the Hunter region have seen some of the largest increases in bulk billing in Australia, since the Albanese Government tripled the bulk billing incentive.

The landmark Budget initiative is a key part of the Government’s $6.1 billion Strengthening Medicare reforms and is the largest investment in bulk billing in Medicare’s 40-year history. 

In October, before the incentive was tripled on 1 November, 66.4% of all GP visits were bulk billed across the Hunter. By December that increased by 3.4 percentage points to 69.8%.

The increase in the bulk billing rate means an estimated 10,800 additional trips to the GP were bulk billed in the Hunter in November and December, saving locals an estimated $450,000 in gap fees and helping to ease the cost-of-living.

Bulk billing had been falling after a decade of cuts and neglect to Medicare by the former Government that began when Peter Dutton froze Medicare rebates as Health Minister.

Thanks to the Albanese Government, bulk billing has now stabilised and begun to rise again, enabling GPs to bulk bill more patients who need care the most.  

The bulk billing incentive is paid on top of the standard Medicare benefit when doctors bulk bill children under 16, pensioners and other Commonwealth concession card holders.

The GP bulk billing rate throughout NSW has increased by 1.7 percentage points to 82.3%, saving residents across the state more than $3.6 million in gap fees in just two months.

Nationally, the GP bulk billing rate has risen by 2.1 percentage points to 77.7%.

The GP bulk billing rate measures the proportion of all GP visits that involved no patient payment.

Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:  

“Doctors’ groups have called our tripling of the bulk billing incentive a ‘game changer’ – and clearly it is. 

“The Albanese Government committed to making it easier for people to see a bulk billing doctor – and the first two months of data show that is exactly what is happening right around the country, and particularly in the Hunter region.” 

Quotes attributable to Minister Conroy:

“This is a win all round for our community – for patients, doctors and the health system – and it is helping make Medicare stronger than it has ever been since Labor introduced it 40 years ago. 

“Every extra bulk billed visit to a GP means one less gap fee, taking pressure off household budgets.”

Quotes attributable to Sharon Claydon MP:

“Eligible patients account for around 3 out of 5 visits to the GP, and in some communities much more than that, meaning changes to the bulkbilling incentive have brought important relief to pensioners, concession card holders and children under 16.

“I want to see the GP uptake of this incentive continue to rise in Newcastle to ensure Novocastrians have access to affordable healthcare.”

Quotes attributable to Meryl Swanson MP:

“People in the Paterson electorate are some of the biggest winners from the Albanese Government’s investment in bulk billing.

“This is delivering significant cost of living relief for people in our community.

“The increase in bulk billing reflects our commitment to ensuring that quality medical care remains within reach for all.”

Quotes attributable to Dan Repacholi MP:

 “It was Labor which introduced Medicare and only Labor can be trusted to strengthen and protect it.

“People in the Hunter are finding it easier to see a bulk billing doctor because of Labor’s efforts to strengthen Medicare.”