Australia is the only country in the OECD that allows specialists complete freedom to set their own fees. This puts patients at risk – but the government can help protect them.
Health announcements in the federal budget include a slow lifting of the Medicare rebate freeze, money for new medicines, and an increase in the Medicare levy to fund the NDIS.
Extra funding to GPs from lifting the Medicare Rebate freeze should be used to buy better data, so that future reform can be based on sound evidence.
High specialist fees in this country, and what they mean for Australians' access to health care, have been of concern for some time.