The Department of Health has revealed the Abbott Government’s $7 GP Tax is just a starting point, and it expects some doctors to slug patients with an even higher fee.
The revelation from acting Deputy Secretary Richard Bartlett shows patients are facing even bigger bills than the Abbott Government is admitting to.
Mr Bartlett told the Senate inquiry into out-of-pocket health costs "You would assume some of the doctors may choose to charge some people larger co-payments – they may vary the amount of co-payment."
This is the first confirmation that there is no upper limit on the GP Tax, and Doctors will be free to raise up-front fees for patients by whatever amount they choose.
‘The policy is inflationary and will put affordable healthcare further and further out of reach’, Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King said.
‘This puts Australia on a fast track towards a two-tiered American style health system that is all part of Tony Abbott’s agenda to dismantle Medicare’
It also confirms new research by the Grattan Institute that low-income earners will be hit the hardest by the GP Tax with many likely to be forced to abandon important medical care if the GP Tax is introduced.
The Health Department told the inquiry it estimates the number of visits to GPs will fall around one per cent as a result of the tax.
Australian Medical Association President Brian Owler told the inquiry the GP Tax will threaten the viability of surgeries that bulk bill and compromise the quality of care Australians receive.