Budget doctor price rise will hurt society's most vulnerable
GLADSTONE patients will have to pay more for their health care, with a $7 GP charge in the Federal Budget that health groups say will deter people from seeing a doctor.
Parents are asking when it will stop once a charge is introduced; the aged care sector says it's a complete disaster for the senior community; and one Gladstone doctor says it will lead to poorer outcomes for health.
Gladstone GP Super Clinic director Dr John Bird said the $7 co-payment had nothing economically, politically and least of all medically going for it.
"It will deter the sick and the poor, which will lead to a deteriorated condition to present late," he said.
"One child with meningitis presenting late could end up with a permanent disability.
"It will cost the government and taxpayer more and will lead to poorer outcomes for health."
He said it would shift the demand across to the emergency accident system, and funding costs to the State Government.
"The other thing it will do is lead to a complete breakdown of bulk billing," he said.
Mt Larcom mother-of-three Louisa Pacher said she often took her children to the doctor, especially during cold and flu season.
She said $7 a visit would add up over time.
"It does make you question whether they're as sick as you think they are," she said.
"It doesn't seem like much but when does it stop? Once you start increasing costs it never stops."
Gladstone Central Committee of the Ageing president Edgar Allen said any impost on the senior community was an absolute disaster.
"The seniors of today enjoyed free health care," he said. Where did we go wrong?"
He said the situation was policy on the run.
"The federal government hasn't thought about the consequences of that."
Patients' costs increase through:
- co-payments for GP services;
- co-payments for emergency departments;
- higher co-payments for medicines;
- cuts to Medicare rebates; and
- frozen rebates for specialist services.