Thursday, February 8, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Medicine With Dr Mags 

Feeling the financial pinch with higher interest rates and the cost of living?

Putting off your health concerns and seeing your GP because of it?

Many patients’ health, especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, depression (that has lasted more than 6 months), have deteriorated after not seeing their GP during COVID.

Not seeing a GP means often ending up in the hospital system which could potentially have been avoided. Most GP practices now must charge an out-of-pocket gap fee to be able to pay their own bills - electricity, staff wages, rents etc. This on top of rising costs is having a greater toll on people's health than we realise.

So, what can you do to maximise your GP appointment and reduce the hit to your back pocket?

   1. Have a long-term GP or Practice – as it works out better in the long run for your health with studies proving you live longer with continuity of care.

   2. Ask your GP if you have a long-term illness if you are eligible for the government funded or subsidised GP Care Plans or annual Health Check (for First Nations and over 75’s) and assessments for adults between 45 to 49 years old or 40 if at risk of diabetes. These GP Care Plans allow you to see your GP team every 3 months, as well as 5 allied health visits too, for no out of pocket or usually very subsidised costs.

   3. If you haven’t been for a while - write down the current or past issues with your health you are worried about - the time it started, any treatments you tried (whether from a pharmacy, another GP, ED or complementary therapist or even your neighbour!) and all the symptoms and if increasing in frequency. 

   4. If you have a lot of issues to go through, your GP might not be able to do them all justice in a short appointment, so it’s often more cost effective to book a longer appointment straight up.

   5. Know how much out of pocket costs a GP consult will be prior to going there - and budget for your and your family’s health.

   6.  If you are having real financial difficulties, ask if the GP Practice has a payment plan which can make things easier to budget for.

Lastly, write to your local Federal member, we are not greedy GP's as some media might portray, there are less and less bulk billing practices due to the Medicare rebate to patients still not matching the costs of running a practice. The Government needs to prioritise primary health, after all, no one, not our admin staff, receptionists, nurses, cleaners, or GP's want to work and only get a third of their wage for their efforts. 

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