The full extent of the pain from Tony Abbott's GP Tax goes way beyond the Doctor's surgery, with experts revealing cancer patients will now be forced to fork out thousands of dollars upfront to pay for MRI, X-Rays, CAT scans and mammograms.
A hidden trap in the Abbott Government's GP Tax package will force many cancer patients to pay extraordinary fees upfront, even those on healthcare and pensioner concession cards.
The trap exposes Tony Abbott's GP Tax as not just a tax on visits to the doctor, it’s also a Pathology Tax, a Diagnostic Imaging Tax, and an MRI Tax.
That’s because the impact of the GP Tax is compounded by a 10-15 per cent cut in the rebate paid to radiologists, and the abolition of a safety net for high cost diagnostic imaging services such as PET scans and Nuclear Medicine.
According to the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA), patients will be forced to pay $90 upfront for every x-ray, $380 for every CAT scan, up to $160 for every mammogram and $190 for every ultrasound. For those unfortunate enough to need a PET scan the upfront cost could be as high as $1,000.
Even after receiving their Medicare rebate, patients could be left with out of pocket cost of up to $160 for every scan, considerably more than the $7 Minister Dutton keeps talking about.
The ADIA estimates the total up front cost of the scans, consultations and pathology required for a patient with liver cancer will be a minimum $1263, for thyroid cancer $1326 and for a patient with liver metastasis $2,207.
New costs for patients – upfront and out of pocket:
Source: Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (source attached)
For many patients, especially those on extensive courses of treatment, those sorts of costs will be simply unaffordable. They’ll either have to skip crucial treatments or take out a loan to pay for essential life-saving treatment.
Those who do miss important scans are likely to get sicker, require even more extensive treatment, and end up costing the health system much, much more.
As the AMA warns, for a woman who misses a scan because they can’t afford it, only to have the lump on her breast later diagnosed as malignant “that could be the difference between life and death”.
This is a disgrace. While GPs are the frontline when it comes to heath care, pathology and diagnostic imaging is the backline.
The GP Tax is a disaster for health, and a disaster for the Budget.
THURSDAY, 9 OCTOBER 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
The huge jump in fees comes as a result of the Government abolishing the bulk billing incentive from 1 July 2015, as part of its GP tax package. As a result, rebates for X-rays, ultrasounds and MRI and PET scans will be slashed from 95 to 85 per cent for patients who were previously bulk-billed.
Radiologists can continue to bulk bill if they choose and not collect the $7 tax - but if they do, they will be punished by having to cover the costs of a 10 per cent cut in the rebate. On top of this, these service providers will also suffer a $5 reduction in their relevant Medicare Rebate, regardless of whether they bulk bill or not.
Most providers won’t be able to afford this, so will now have to charge their patients for this gap.
All patients will now be required to pay for their services upfront.