A Warrnambool woman who has suffered from headaches for over a year has been hit with hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket medical costs.
Heather Mulready has seen a number of medical practitioners in a bid to ease her pain, which doctors believe is related to arthritis in her neck.
"I have had massage, physiotherapy, seen a rheumatologist and musculoskeletal specialist for about six months."
Mrs Mulready, a pensioner, said she was still suffering with chronic headaches and had now been referred to a pain management clinic in Clayton.
Her first appointment cost $300 and the rebate was $76, while her second appointment will cost $250 with a $110 rebate. In addition to this she has to pay $100 for a diagnostic procedure.
Mrs Mulready said she had to think twice about the appointments due to the cost.
"Its very difficult to prioritise things like servicing the car and new tyres on a pension," she said.
"I also have fibromyalgia and do pilates to keep the body moving. Being a carer I have to get this neck fixed but I also need to make sure the bills are paid. I can't just go to the movies or out to lunch, or even visit my mother in Melbourne, unless it has been budgeted for."
Mrs Mulready urged the federal government to increase Medicare rebates to ease out-of-pocket medical costs.
"It would be very helpful if the government could help people with medical costs, especially if they have a chronic or ongoing diagnosis," she said. "I do have a health care plan through my doctor for five visits to allied health per year but there are also out-of-pocket expenses involved."
Mrs Mulready's comments came after Australian Medical Association vice president Dr Chris Moy told The Standard rising medical costs were a concern.
Dr 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," he 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.
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