Cutting the Medicare rebate for after-hours doctor home visits would impact more than 5,382 patients in federal electorate of Berowra

A push to remove the Medicare rebate for after-hours doctor home visits would impact at least 5,382 people in the federal electorate of Berowra* who have used the National Home Doctor Service in the past financial year.

A decade after John Howard introduced after-hours doctor home visits to Medicare, the service is now being put under threat with calls for the Medicare rebate to be removed in the government’s current Medicare Benefit Schedule review.

Dr Umberto Russo Chief Medical Officer of the National Home Doctor Service, said:

“Doctor home visits are an essential Medicare service which are vital for the most vulnerable people in our community, such as children and the elderly.

“In the federal electorate of Berowra, almost half of home visit patients were children under 15 years of age.

“Children and elderly family members can fall sick at any time of the day or night ”“ not just in business hours when GP clinics are open.

“If home visits weren’t available, more families would go to emergency departments for health problems that are not emergencies but cannot wait for treatment until business hours.

“The cost to the health system of a doctor home visit is $128, while the cost to the health system of patient being treated in an emergency department is $368 on average, and much more when an ambulance is called.

“A report by Deloitte Access Economics found that without access to after-hours doctor home visits to households and aged-care facilities, the cost to the health system would be $724 million higher of the four years of the budget forward estimates.

“Home visits help families when they need it most and keep emergency departments for emergencies, saving the health system money,” Dr Russo said.

The National Association of Medical Deputising Services, which represents home doctors, has started a campaign called Protect Home Visits, which almost 40,000 people have joined to show their support for this essential Medicare service.

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