Dear Valued Patients,
I write to inform you of important changes to our billing policy at The Bennelong Medical Clinic. After long, careful consideration we have made the decision to introduce mixed billing to our practice.
These changes will come into effect from MONDAY 14th SEPTEMBER 2020.
Information included below:
- What is mixed-billing?
- When will bulk-billing still apply?
- How will the fee be processed?
- How will I know the cost of my appointment before I come in?
- Reasons for the change in policy
- List of most common fees (full list to be emailed in due course)
In the coming week, we will provide a full list of fees as well as more information on our new cancellation policy, changes to the prcoess for requesting script and repeat referrals, and how we will manage any fees incurred through telehealth.
1. What is mixed-billing?
Mixed-billing means that most patients will now pay a ‘gap payment’ for appointments. A gap payment is an out-of-pocket cost that is the difference between the practice’s private fee and your medicare rebate. For our practice, patients eligible for a Medicare rebate will incur an out-of-pocket cost of $45-60.
We will also charge a non-rebatable fee of $22 for any prescription repeats and $33 for referral repeats provided outside an appointment (please remember that the doctor always has the right to decline requests for prescription or referral repeats on clinical grounds). These requests will need to be processed through HotDoc on our website.
However, some patients will continue to be bulk-billed or will be eligible for a concession fee.
2. When will bulk-billing still apply?
Access to healthcare is very important to us. Therefore, certain patients will continue to be bulk-billed or receive a concession fee.
Patients who will continue to be bulk-billed are:
- Children 16 years or younger,
- Pension card holders, and
- Defence Veterans.
Patients who will be eligible for concession fees (85% of full fee) are:
- Full-time students with a valid student card,
- Health card card holders,
- Other government-approved concession cards.
Patients seeking bulk-billing or concession entitlements will need to present their valid concession cards at their appointment.
3. How will the fee be processed?
You will be charged the full private fee to your credit or debit card at the end of your appointment. Please note that we do not accept cash and do not keep cash on the premises.
We can then electronically process your Medicare rebate on your behalf. The rebate should appear in your bank account within 1-2 business days. We recommend that you ensure your bank details are up-to-date on my.gov.au to avoid any delays in receiving your rebate. We will provide instructions to help you with this process in the coming days. Patients who are not bulk-billed or concession card holders should expect an out-of-pocket fee of $45-60 for a standard consultation.
Fees for prescription and referral repeats outside an appointment will be processed online through HotDoc once the request is approved by our clinic.
4. How will I know the cost of my appointment before I come in?
Our reception staff will always try to give you the most accurate advice possible about the costs of your appointment ahead of time. However, please keep in mind that the reception staff will only be able to offer you advice based on the information you provide and that your type of consultation may vary in your appointment.
Key indicators that will change the cost of your appointment include the length (time) of your appointment, how many issues you discuss with the doctor, and whether there is a procedure involved in your appointment. We have tried our best to keep the gap payment as consistent as possible across all appointment types so that patients do not experience too much variation.
For the moment, we will continue to bulk-bill telehealth appointments except where they are used for care plans (e.g. mental health care plan or EPC referrals to allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists and dietitians)).
If you are under financial strain at any time, please contact the General Manager to discuss options for payment plans.
5. Reasons for the change in policy:
We introduce this new billing policy with mixed emotions after many years of consideration and hesitation. As a practice, we strongly believe that everyone deserves to have access to high-quality healthcare regardless of their financial situation. We have remained a bulk-billing practice for so long because we believe it is an effective way to keep people engaged with their healthcare when they may otherwise not.
To our dismay, the reality of our healthcare system remains that this ideal is far too big and bold for one small practice to carry. We have held out in hope of reforms to Medicare that have never come. The returns we receive from Medicare simply do not cover our costs of operating as a practice, let alone as a practice that prides itself on providing the highest quality of primary healthcare humanly possible.
We are committed to maintaining and improving the quality of healthcare we provide and have had to take this step in order to protect the sustainability of our practice.
We cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support of our practice – in the past and into the future – as we make this transition.
More information will come around how fees will be processed – especially for script and referral repeats provided via telehealth. Never hesitate to reach out if you are in need of assistance.
General Manager, The Bennelong Medical Clinic
6. Summary of most common fees
See below a summary of the fees that you will most commonly be charged. A full list will be available in due course and will also be available at reception.
|Appointment Type||Description||Private Fee||Medicare Rebate||Gap (out of pocket)|
|Short Consultation (23)||1-2 simple queries that can be dealt with in under 15 mins.||$80||$38.20||$41.80|
|Long Consultation (36)||1 complex query, or a series of simple queries, that can be dealt with in under 30 mins.||$120||$73.05||$46.95|
|Extra Long Consultation (44)||Multiple complex issues requiring up to 45mins attendance.||$160||$108.85||$51.15|
|Mental Health Care Plan (2717)||GP Management Plans including Mental Health Care Plans.||$190||$138.30||$51.70|
|Mental Health Care Plan Review (2712)||Review of GP Mental Health Care Plan||$130||$73.95||$56.05|
Fees that are not eligible for a Medicare rebate:
|Script Repeat – faxed or emailed||Where script repeats are sent to the patient without needing to present at the practice. Please note that scripts for any new medication will require an appointment.||$22|
|Referral Repeat – faxed or emailed||Where referral repeats are sent to the patient without needing to present at the practice. Please note that referrals to see a new specialist will require an appointment.||$33|