Medicare billed a million times a day

Australians are now billing Medicare more than a million times a day.


Health minister Sussan Ley said the annual Medicare figures for 2014-15 showed 21 million Australians accessed more than 368 million individual Medicare services.

That cost taxpayers more than $20 billion.

“About 90 per cent of the population accessed Medicare last year, with taxpayers billed an average of 17 times per patient at a cost of over $800 each in 2014-15,” she said in a statement.

“Or to put it another way, Medicare was billed an average of one million times every single day last year, the first time this has ever happened.”

Ms Ley said Medicare use continued to skyrocket, with claims increasing by about 60 per cent over the past decade. Overall costs increased 100 per cent.

That’s despite new Medicare patients growing at just 21 per cent over the same 10 year period.

She said Medicare claims were now an average of $350 a year higher than they were 10 years ago.

“Essentially, we’ve seen the number of Medicare claims triple the growth in new patients over the past decade. This has in turn seen cost to taxpayers double,” she said.

Ms Ley said there were now more than 5700 items subsidised on the Medicare Benefit Schedule, about 1000 more than 10 years ago.

She said it was clear the cupboard needed a deep clean.

“It’s a positive that we’re continually discovering and funding new and improved medical treatments to keep us living healthier lives longer. But the challenge is to ensure we’re also improving education and removing outdated and unproven procedures,” she said.