Health Minister signals Medicare overhaul planned

GOLD Coasters could soon be paying a $6 fee to visit the Doctor.

The Abbott Government has given its strongest hint yet that a fee could be added for GP visits, with Australia’s health system set to be overhauled.

Health Minister Peter Dutton signalled the Coalition is planning a major revamp of Medicare to address a blowout in health costs, saying the cost of Medicare has risen by 124 per cent in the last decade.


Mr Dutton told the ABC’s 7.30 program there needs to be discussion around co-payments for medical services, suggesting Australians who can afford it should pay more for their healthcare.

“If they have a means to contribute to their own healthcare, we should be embarking on a discussion about how that payment model will work,” he said.

“I want to make sure that, for argument’s sake, we have a discussion about you or me on reasonable incomes [and] whether we should expect to pay nothing when we go to a doctor.”

Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Steve Hambleton has warned introducing a fee to see the GP could see low-income earners avoid getting treatment. He warned it could also put more pressure on public hospitals.

However former AMA President Keryn Phelps said the health system needs to be more sustainable and believes a fee should be part of the mix to help rein in the cost to taxpayers.

Labor has slammed the move, claiming the Coalition is seeking to “dismantle” Medicare.

“Australians who can afford to pay more already do so through a greater contribution to the Medicare levy,” Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King said in a statement.

“What Mr Dutton is really talking about is dismantling our fair and sustainable system in favour of a private health system [as] exists in the United States.”