Are you paying more for healthcare these days? You’re not alone, as the latest Australian Healthcare Index survey from Healthengine and the Australian Patients Association, uncovered cost concerns and higher out-of pocket costs are preventing people from getting care. Consider this:
- 33% raised concerns about increasing out-of-pocket costs to see the GP
- 53% said they are going to the GP less often due to costs
- 1 in 5 people skipped getting a prescription filled due to cost
- 30% said Private Health Insurance costs are too high
Prioritising healthcare is important, which for some people this has meant cutting back on some of life’s “nice to haves” and budgeting to ensure they can get the essential care they need. Here are things to check or do that may help you save on healthcare out-of-pocket costs, plus how to take action to support the future of Medicare.
Get the Express Medicare App & track your Medicare Safety Net
If you are enrolled in Medicare, Medicare Safety Nets can help to lower your out-of-pocket medical costs for out of hospital services. This happens after you spend over a certain amount in a calendar year and reach the threshold set by the Federal Department of Health. There are two different types of Medicare Safety Nets: the Original Medicare Safety Net (OMSN) and Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN), and you can read more about them here.
Once you reach the threshold for a Medicare Safety Net, you start to get more money back from the Federal Government in the form of Medicare benefits for medical services. Learn about the thresholds here. Thresholds are calculated each calendar year from 1 January to 31 December. Individuals are registered automatically for Medicare Safety Nets. If you’re part of a family or couple, you can register as a family to combine your costs. Download the Families form (MSO16) to register or update your family’s details. The Australian Patients Association offers a Q&A on Medicare Safety Nets for reference.
To monitor your Medicare Safety Net threshold, download the Express Medicare Plus App for iOS or Android. You can also check via your Medicare online account. Just sign in through myGov and use your Medicare online account.
Lower costs with Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) Medicine
Check out how to track your PBS prescription medicine purchases, so you know when you reach the PBS Safety Net Threshold. Once you or your family spend a certain amount on PBS medicine, you can apply for a PBS Safety Net Card and get cheaper PBS medicines. Additional help arrived on 1 January 2023 when the maximum general co-payment on PBS medicines was cut from $42.50 to $30. For non-PBS medication, it can pay to shop around, as different pharmacies may charge different amounts for the same medication.
Get a Private Health Insurance Comparison
If you have Private Health Insurance, make sure your coverage best suits your needs and is good value for money. Whilst you can reach out to different providers, there are also Private Health Insurance comparison services that can do this work for you. You may find you already have a great policy and price, or maybe you can save some dollars by switching providers. Compare Health Insurance is one service to check out.
Share Medicare concerns & write to your local MP
Along with Australian Healthcare Index survey participants, you may be experiencing higher GP out-of-pocket costs. This is happening as GPs move away from bulk billing because they can’t sustain their practices with the current Medicare rebates. What can you do? You can write to your MP to share your concerns about the state of Medicare, and there’s a website that makes it really easy.
SaveOurMedicare.com.au was started by a concerned citizen, George Paw, who found a new GP when his regular GP stopped bulk-billing. He also heard concerns from friends and family and other people online who were confused about the rising out of pocket costs when seeing a GP. Armed with tech skills and a passion to make a difference with Medicare, George launched the site. You can search and find your MP, personalise a template letter or write your own and send it easily.
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