GPs out in the cold

THE freeze on the Medicare rebate for GPs is making it increasingly difficult to bulk bill patients across the Coffs Coast.

To help alleviate pressure, local GPs like Dr John Kramer are encouraging those who can afford to pay, at least in part, for their visit to the doctor to do so.

"I think those that can afford to pay something should, those that are truly disadvantaged we should continue to support them if we are a compassionate society," Dr Kramer said.

"It's not uncommon to see people come in for their travel vaccinations and expect to be bulk billed for those consultations, if you can afford to travel overseas you can afford to pay something out of your pocket for a trip to the doctor."

Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Gannon told national media recently a co-payment should be evaluated for patients who can afford it.

Dr Kramer shared the view of Dr Gannon with emphasis a co-payment or any future policy mustn't hurt lower socio-economic groups like the elderly.

"We need to have more support for those who are generally disadvantaged, so that change such as the co-payment must be made in such a way that disadvantaged people aren't further disadvantaged, they can still have access to services because we know that they are ones who typically that need them more," he said.

Member for Page Kevin Hogan said a co-payment was off the table.

Dr Kramer predicts bulk billing will drop in the near future, holding concerns for the health care of marginalised groups.

"The fact the rebates have been frozen for such a long time and will remain that way means that the business model supporting bulk billing is becoming unviable for most practices," he said.

"We've already been forced to cut back on bulk billing and it's happening right across the country."

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