Fact sheet

Fact Check: Health Minister Greg Hunt said the bulk-billing rate is up and fewer patients have costs when they see a GP. Is he correct?

Liberal Party of Australia General practice Bulk-billing
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt claims that GP bulk-billing rates have risen nearly four percentage points, up from 82.2 per cent under Labor to a record 86.1 per cent under the Coalition Government. But Mr Hunt's claim is half-baked. He has the numbers right, but it does not necessarily follow that an increase in bulk-billing means fewer patients face out-of-pocket costs when seeing their GP. Department of Health statistics confirm that the bulk-billing rate has risen almost 4 percentage points since 2013 to a record high of 86.1 per cent. However, the bulk-billing rate measures the proportion of services that are being bulk-billed, and not the percentage of patients who are being bulk-billed. Experts told RMIT ABC Fact Check that this meant Mr Hunt was conflating a rise in the bulk-billing rate with a decrease in the number of patients paying out-of-pocket costs, for which data is limited. An AIHW report found only two in every three people were bulk-billed for all their GP visits in 2016-17. This statistic was only available for a single financial year, so it is not possible to gauge whether the number is falling, as suggested by Mr Hunt.
Verdict: Half Baked
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