January 7, 2016
The Australian Government has moved to assure Gippsland women there are no changes to Medicare benefits for physical pap smear examinations performed by a GP or specialist.
There will also be no reduction in the dollar-value of the Medicare rebate a patient receives to undertake associated pathology tests.
News reports this week led some people to claim there would be a cut to the Medicare rebate received for these important health tests.
One report falsely claimed a pap smear could cost up to $30.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said several people had contacted him directly to raise concerns and it was important the public was aware there would be no change to the payments provided to patients.
“The Medicare rebate for these important procedures has not been changed,” Mr Chester said.
“The confusion has arisen following a decision to reduce bulk-billing incentive payments that are paid directly to pathology corporations – not patients – which are separate to the Medicare rebate.
“If a corporation is claiming that the cost of their tests will increase, they are not taking into account the value of the Medicare rebate a patient receives from the Government to help cover this very cost.”
The pathology bulk billing incentive was worth between $1.40 and $3.40 at a total cost of $500 million over five years, however the Health Minister Sussan Ley has stated bulk-billing rates did not increase beyond natural growth between 2008/09 and 2014/15.
Diagnostic imaging services for concession card holders and children under 16 years old will still attract the bulk-billing incentive. The MRI incentive paid to providers for bulk billing concessional patients and children will be reduced from 100 per cent of the Medicare fee to 95 per cent to line up with the current arrangements for other diagnostic imaging services.
Mr Chester said ensuring the health system remained sustainable was crucial so the government could invest in new medicines.