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The government has changed its proposed $7 GP co-payment to $5 but the flaws underlying the policy remain. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Six things you should know about the co-payment scheme

The Federal government’s attempt to impose a $5 co-payment on GP services by regulation raises the same issues as its previous failed attempt to impose a $7 co-payment through legislation. The consequences…
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…
Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton announce changes to the government’s GP co- payment policy. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Back to the future with Coalition attacks on Medicare bulk billing

In the government’s latest “scraping away the barnacles” of unpopular and blocked policies, prime minister Tony Abbott and health minister Peter Dutton have announced they’re abandoning the plan to have…
Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott have presented a less controversial Medicare co-payment that should be easier to sell to the public. AAP/Lukas Coch

Co-payment compromise puts extra burden on doctors

The government has stepped back from its A$7 proposed co-payment for visiting the GP but still aims to skin the Medicare cat, putting the onus on doctors to send a $5 price signal to non-concessional patients…
The Dutch like their health system, even though they contribute to it from their own pockets. Bohbeh/Shuttersock

Creating a better health system: lessons from the Netherlands

Australia has a relatively strong health system by international standards, but it needs a makeover. To generate fresh ideas, The Conversation is profiling five international health systems that have important…
In the UK, surgeries are awarded points and additional funding for keeping patients healthy. emanueletudisco photography/Flickr

Creating a better health system: lessons from England

Australia has a relatively strong health system by international standards, but it needs a makeover. To generate fresh ideas, The Conversation is profiling five international health systems that have important…
If the Abbott government is clearing the way for a bold reform agenda, the shape of the new direction remains shrouded in mystery. AAP/Dan Peled

Abbott government health policy needs a sharper focus

The Coalition entered the 2013 federal election without a health policy. After a year in government, it remains without one. While there has been activity in the health arena, there’s been little coherent…
The AMA proposal would wipe out 97% of the government’s $3.5bn savings. Newzulu/AAP

AMA co-pay plan: protecting the poor and GPs' bottom line

Bulk billing without restrictions has been a feature of the Australian health system since the introduction of Medicare in 1984. It is particularly important in general practice, as it means any Australian…
As the queue grows, small increases in waiting times soon turn into dramatic spikes. Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

GP co-payment would increase emergency department wait times

The introduction of a GP co-payment could see average emergency department visits increase by between six minutes and almost three hours, new modelling shows, as more patients opt for free hospital care…
The new Extended Medicare Safety Net will no longer provide patients with protection against high medical costs. flickr:tanakawho

A new, simpler Medicare safety net… but with holes

Buried in the details of the health budget are some changes to Medicare not widely discussed in the last 36 hours. Just as important as the introduction of co-payments for medicines and GP visits are changes…
It doesn’t matter how you count it, Tony Shepherd’s claim that Australians see doctors 11 times a year just doesn’t add up. AAP/Lukas Coch

FactCheck: does the average Australian go to the doctor 11 times a year?

All Australians, on average, go to the doctor now 11 times per year. I just don’t think we’re that crook. – Tony Shepherd, Commission of Audit Chairman, press conference on the report’s launch, May 1 The…
We’re unlikely to solve persistent challenges to the health system, such as ensuring equitable access to well-coordinated care, with quick fixes. AAP Image/Quentin Jones

The state of Australia: health

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
For general patients, the minimum co-payment would be A$15. Shutterstock

GP co-payments: a triple fail for the Commission of Audit

The Commission of Audit’s proposals about GP co-payments are just that, proposals. They are not government policy, nor should they be. Some aspects of the Commission’s recommendations are good. But the…
Progress on GP super clinics is mixed, but it would be a mistake to condemn the program without a closer evaluation. Shutterstock

GP clinics aren’t so super but it’s too early to pull the plug

The former Labor government’s GP Super Clinics Program has come in for a bashing. The Coalition has derided it as “a total waste of money” and News Corp has dubbed it a “dangerous health care experiment…
It passes the ‘milk bar test’ but once you look behind it, big risks emerge. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Save now, spend later: why co-payments for GP visits are a bad idea

Like a movie zombie, a policy idea that should have died has arisen from the dead and is likely to feature as a cost-savings measure in next month’s budget. The idea is simple: most GP patients should…
‘Going private’ may speed up your time to treatment, but Medicare shouldn’t pick up the tab. Shutterstock

Want Medicare savings? Stop paying for private hospitals

The polls this week suggest half of Australians think the Abbott government should reduce the cost of Medicare. My solution? Claw back some of the A$9 billion the government pays to private hospitals…
The cost of operations varies from hospital to hospital but a higher price doesn’t equal better care. TheTun/Shutterstock

Public hospital efficiency gains could save $1 billion a year

Public hospital spending has been the single fastest-growing area of government spending over the past decade. As governments, policymakers and economists put health spending under the microscope, it’s…

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