The Age & The Sydney Morning Herald | January 2014

Possible side effects of GP co-payments…

Jennifer Doggett

Terry Barnes, former health adviser to Tony Abbott has raised the idea of a small co-payment for GP visits. The fee would attempt to combat rising healthcare costs and reduce unnecessary GP visits. Jennifer Doggett, fellow and author of CPD report Out of pocket: rethinking health co-payments discusses the side effects of GP co-payments in a recent article for The Age. 

“If, as the paper suggests, the co-payment can be covered by private health insurance its value as a price signal would be negated completely. As poorer people are less likely to have health insurance, it would also result in the more affluent being able to access GPs without up-front costs while the most vulnerable have to stump up $5 to get in the door. In this case, the only function of the co-payment would be to increase the overall cost of our health system and to decrease its equity.”

Proposed $6 GP fee would hurt the poorest

The rational side would suggest that people may weigh up whether a visit to the GP is necessary, but we must bear in mind people’s tendencies to put money ahead of our health. Gareth Hutchens in The Sydney Morning Herald further discusses why co-payments might be implemented, and the impact that could have.

“One such effect is to make Australia one of the most high-cost out-of-pocket healthcare systems in the world. Doggett found that co-payments comprise 17 per cent of health spending in Australia, which is a higher proportion than in 13 out of 20 OECD countries.

Supporters of the idea have said that ”co-payments” are nothing new in Australia’s healthcare system, which is true.

But just because they already exist, it doesn’t mean they’re always beneficial.”

Jennifer Doggett’s article at The Age

Gareth Hutchens’s article at The Sydney Morning Herald

Learn more about healthcare co-payments in Out of pocket

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