Stuart Park Surgery is a mixed-billing practice. (Billing is a mixture of private fees and bulk billing to Medicare.)

From July 2014 we bulk bill aged pensioners 65 years and over who hold a Commonwealth Pension Card and all children 15 years and younger. Patients suffering chronic conditions may be bulk billed at our discretion. (Not all pensioners and Health Care Card holders are bulk billed.)

As at March 2019, our Standard Consultation (daytime) fee is $85 (with a $37.60 rebate from Medicare) and our Long Consultation (20 minutes or more with the doctor) fee is $135 (with a $72-80 rebate from Medicare). Fees are slightly higher on weekends.

In order to provide quality medical care with properly trained doctors, nurses and receptionists, we charge private fees, and patients claim their rebate from Medicare.

When Medicare commenced in 1983, it guaranteed to refund to patients 85% of the scheduled doctors’ fees, and to keep up with inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Within a few years, Medicare changed its policy, and has increased its payments at half the rate of inflation. Presently, Medicate rebate increases are frozen. After 30 years of this, the Medicare rebate now sits at less than half the scheduled doctors’ fees. This is why patients only get back half of what they pay to doctors. In addition, there are no penalty rates paid by Medicare for doctors attending patients after-hours up until 8pm weeknights and on Saturday mornings. Medicare expects doctors to work extended hours without these penalties.

Rather than billing the patient, doctors can directly bill Medicare and receive that 50% or so of their fee. This is what is known as bulk billing. However, legislation makes it illegal for a doctor to charge the patient an additional top-up fee for the difference (a co-payment), when they bulk bill Medicare.

Some doctors have adapted to Medicare’s half-payment of fees by providing half-care to their patient. When all patient billings are directed to Medicare, these are referred to as bulk billing clinics, and the doctors often provide a reduced standard of service to the patient with shorter consultation times. Rather than spending time and skills on adequate history-taking and examination of the patient, a few brief questions might be followed by the ordering of unnecessary tests and investigations, or a referral to another practitioner. However, the service is free to the patient. In Darwin, some of the doctors providing these services are poorly trained and do not hold a Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

At Stuart Park Surgery, we try to keep our fees as low as possible. We generally charge less than AMA (Australian Medical Association) rates for consultations, procedures and Medical Examinations. Our current fees are displayed on notices within the surgery and are available from our receptionists.

At the start of 2016 our standard fee had remained at $75 for the previous three years and this was no longer covering the costs of running the surgery.