General practice

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The major impediment to realising the ideal of good general practice is that few patients understand it. Alex Proimos/Flickr

What you should expect from your GP

Australia spent $16 billion on GP-related health care in 2012-13. Given that our public health system means each of us is paying for health care through our taxes, what should we expect from doctors?
New modelling shows the Medicare rebate freeze will leave GPs A$8.43 worse off per consultation. DIBP images/Flickr

High cost of GP rebate freeze may see co-payments rise from the dead

With GPs facing greater economic pressure and the health minister considering legislative change to make it easier for GP to charge them, GP co-payments, like Lazarus, may rise again from the dead.
Very high GP attenders cost Medicare an average of A$3,202 in 2012-13, compared to an Australian average of A$690. Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

Time for policy rethink as frequent GP attenders account for 41% of costs

As well as being responsible for a large share of total costs, people who visit the GP more often are more likely to live in the most disadvantaged areas, and to report being in poor health.
The Coalition government’s proposed changes to Medicare have never managed to garner public favour. AAP/Peter Boyle

Autopsy of a dead policy: government shelves impending Medicare change

The government has backed down from its plan to cut Medicare rebates to doctors, which was to start on Monday, January 19, after several days of public pressure. For those not au fait with the world of…
The big losers will be ordinary patients. Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

GP co-payment 2.0: a triple whammy for patients

In the May budget, the Commonwealth government proposed a A$7 co-payment for GP services and tests done outside a hospital. After seven months of fierce criticism, the government abandoned those plans…
If you don’t have a concession card and are usually bulk billed, you may face a A$5 co-payment, or more. Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

Medicare co-payment: what the changes mean for you

The Abbott government has scrapped its controversial A$7 co-payment plan and replaced it with a A$5 cut to GP rebates for patients over 16 without a concession card, and other rebate changes. The revised…
If we want to ensure the health system remains sustainable, it makes sense to use its cheapest and most efficient arm: general practice. Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Medicare spending on general practice is value for money

Last year taxpayers spent A$6.3 billion on GP services through Medicare, about 6% of the total government health expenditure. This was a 50% increase (A$2.1 billion) in today’s dollars over the past decade…
Drug reps form a huge part of the industry’s marketing strategy. Alexander Raths/Shutterstock

Why I don’t see drug reps – a GP’s take on Big Pharma spruiking

Here’s what I remember. It was 14 years ago, and I was a junior doctor working in psychiatry. Some colleagues planned a dinner as an end-of-term celebration and, despite reasonable incomes, they decided…
The poorest households already spend more than a fifth of their disposable income on health care. Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Higher health co-payments will hit the most vulnerable

Many poor families already pay a significant proportion of their household income on health care co-payments and will face increasing financial pressure with a proposed additional A$7 charge, according…
The average Australian adult gains 0.416 kg a year, so staying weight-neutral is a major accomplishment. TaraPatta/Shutterstock

Weighty matters: why GPs shouldn’t be afraid of the scales

If you’re an adult and live in Australia, you’re more likely to be overweight or obese than not: 63% and 37% respectively. This excess weight is associated with increased premature death and disease, and…
Medicare Locals plan for better, tailored health services by drawing on local knowledge. Image from shutterstock.com

Let Medicare Locals find their feet and improve primary care

Primary health care in Australia is a messy beast, with many heads and all sorts of body parts. But it’s centrally important because it plays a major role in achieving public health outcomes, such as better…
An identical patient with an identical presenting symptom of ‘tension headache’ might lead to a thousand different discussions. DIBP images

GP consultations are often more complicated than you think

When we think of what defines a medical consultation, we quite reasonably think of the “presenting complaint”: the medical problem which the patient brings to the doctor. In movies, literature, common…
Co-payments are an unfair tool for reducing health costs. Alex E. Proimos

Six dollar co-payment to see a doctor: a GP’s view

As a GP, when I prescribe a drug, I need to know its likely benefits and risks, and I need to base my decision-making on the best available evidence. I’d like to think the same principle applies to the…
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that this is not a fixable problem. Image from shutterstock.com

Unfixable: time to ditch personally controlled e-health record scheme

Federal health minister Peter Dutton has commissioned a review of Labor’s troubled Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project. It’s unclear whether the review committee is to decide…
It’s your absolute right to seek advice and to be in charge of what happens to your body. Image from shutterstock.com

A guide to a second medical opinion

How many dealers did you visit before you last bought a car? Were you happy with the first quote you got for a painting job or kitchen renovation? When it comes to your finances, your house and your belongings…
The current fee-for-service model makes it difficult to contain costs and boost the quality of care. Image from shutterstock.com

Phase out GP consultation fees for a better Medicare

In the fourth part of our series Health Rationing, Peter Sivey explains why it might be time to abandon Medicare’s fee-for-service model. Teachers aren’t paid a fee for each lesson they teach, nor are…

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