Will You Save Money by Switching to a Bulk-billing Doctor?

Posted on: 26 February 2019

If you currently have a patient account with your doctor, then you may be considering switching to one who offers Medicare bulk-billing services. You may have friends who do this who say that it saves them money.

How does bulk billing work compared to a patient account? Will it save you money on your medical bills?

How Bulk Billing Compares to Patient Accounts

If you currently have a patient account, then you pay for your doctor's services yourself. If the treatment was eligible for Medicare, you then claim the payment back.

In some cases, your claim may cover all your doctor's costs. In others, there will be a gap between the amount your doctor bills you and the money you get from Medicare. You have to cover this gap cost.

If your doctor bulk bills, then they manage the Medicare payment process themselves. If your treatment is eligible under Medicare rules, you don't have to pay up front or cover any gap costs. The doctor accepts the amount that Medicare will pay as their final fee. You don't need to be involved.

Is Bulk Billing Cheaper?

When a doctor accepts bulk billing, they commit to accepting a standard cost for a treatment set by Medicare. They also remove you from the payment loop.

So, you don't have to pay your doctor's bill, you don't have to claim anything back and you don't have to cover any gap payment. Your doctor takes care of everything with Medicare.

This can be cheaper than working with a patient account. Your doctor can't charge you more than the Medicare accepted level, so your general costs will always be covered. However, you do need to realise that this system has some limitations.

If you have a patient account, then you already know that you have to pay for some treatments and services yourself. If they aren't covered by Medicare, then you can't claim for any costs towards them. This system doesn't really change if you join a bulk-billing clinic.

Bulk billing is only used for consultations and treatments that fall within the Medicare system. So, for example, the system allows bulk billing to cover a GP's appointment and tests your doctor may order if you're having hearing problems. However, it may not help with the cost of a hearing aid if the tests show you need one.

To find out more about how bulk billing works and what it covers, contact local clinics and ask for advice.