Health Minister consults in NSW on protecting Medicare long-term

The value of Medicare claims in New South Wales has more-than-doubled in the past decade to over $6 billion per year, while nearly nine-in-ten visits to doctor in the state are now bulk billed.



The figures coincide with Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley’s visits to western Sydney and the NSW Central Coast today to consult with local health professionals at the coalface about how best to protect Medicare for the long-term.



Ms Ley said she had been travelling the country over the past month listening to a range of ideas and concerns from health professionals and patients alike, however she said there was general agreement that doing nothing was not an option.



“We value general practice and primary health care for the vital role it plays in keeping people out of hospital and helping us live longer,” Ms Ley said.



“However, we’re also seeing increasing pressure on the nation’s health budget, with the value of Medicare claims in NSW more-than-doubling in the past decade to $6.7 billion per year.”



Ms Ley said 87 per cent of all GP visits in NSW were also now bulk billed, compared to about 76 per cent 10 years ago. NSW currently has the highest GP bulk billing rate in the nation.



“It’s important we protect Medicare for the long-term to ensure, for example, bulk bulling remains for concession card holders and the vulnerable and this is a key part of my consultations. The same goes for ensuring we maintain high quality care and treatment for Australians.



“It’s also why I’m consulting on the importance of ensuring those who have the means to do so make a modest contribution towards the cost of their own care and treatment.



“However, this is a genuine consultation effort on Medicare reform and I am going in with eyes and ears open to ensure we get the best outcomes for patients and health professionals alike.”



Over 120 million visits to Medicare-supported medical services were made in NSW last year (2013-14) – the equivalent of over 16 services per person annually.



This is a 52 per cent increase in Medicare usage in NSW in the past decade – quadruple that of estimated population growth in the state over the same period (13 per cent).



Medicare spending nationally has more than doubled from about $8 billion in 2004 to $20 billion today. It is expected to continue to climb even higher to $34 billion by 2024.



Ten years ago, the Medicare Levy covered 67 per cent of the cost of Medicare, however that has fallen to just 54 per cent over the past decade.



Key Medicare Facts – New South Wales

Medicare                                              NSW                                      NSW                                      NSW

                  2003-04                                 2013-14                                Increase 10 yrs

Estimated Resident                             6,647,198                               7,493,619                                 13%


Total number of Medicare                   81.1                                        123.2                                         52%

services million million

Total Services Per Capita                   12.2                                        16.4                                           34%

Total Benefits ($)                                 $3.1

                                                            billion                                      $6.7 billion                              116%

Average Total Benefit Per                   $467.00                                $893.90 92%

Capita ($)

Total Bulk Billing Rate (%)                  73%                                        80%                                          10%

GP Bulk Billing Rate (%)                     76%                                        87%                                          15%



Source: Federal Department of Health

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