Concerns are growing that ill people are putting off specialist appointments because of growing out of pocket costs.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) vice president Dr Chris Moy said Medicare freezes meant the gap between the cost of a service and the rebate was increasing. "The Medicare rebate has fallen way behind what it should be," Dr Moy said.
"It's well below half of what it should be at the current time."
Dr Moy said he was concerned some people may put off appointments or treatments because of the growing costs. "The AMA does worry about the cost of medical care," he said.
Dr Moy said the federal government needed to increase Medicare rebates.
He said he hoped people who had difficultly paying for an appointment or treatment would try and arrange a payment plan. "Unfortunately there are people who will not show up - they may feel embarrassed about it," he said.
Warrnambool's Deanne Williams has experienced first hand how medical costs can quickly add up.
In 2015 she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.
She went through eight rounds of chemotherapy, had a lumpectomy and full axillary clearance, followed by eight weeks of radiotherapy. "It cost us $1600 just to get diagnosed," she said.
"I still pay for all my check-ups, monthly GP appointments and medication, which costs about $150 a month to help with side affects and nerve damage from the treatments."
In 2020-21, nearly half a million Australians decided not to see a specialist because they could not afford it, and even more deferred or did not fill a prescription because of the cost, according to the Grattan Institute.
The Grattan Institute has a number of recommendations. These include:
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