Referred medical services

During 2019–20, $20.2 billion was spent on services where a person had been referred by a general practitioner or medical specialist to another non-hospital specialist or allied health professional (this includes services provided in hospitals). 3 in every 4 dollars were funded by the Australian Government (75.5%, or $15.3 billion) mainly through the MBS, and the remainder by non‑government entities (24.5%, or $5.0 billion). State and territory governments do not contribute funding to this area (Figure 28).

Figure 28: Spending on referred medical services, by source of funds, constant prices⁽ᵃ⁾, 2009–10 to 2019–20

The line graph shows that spending on referred medical services by both Australian Government and non-government sector over the decade to 2019–20. Australian Government spending was highest, increasing from $11.0 billion in 2009–10 to $15.3 billion in 2019–20. Non-government spending increased from $3.4 billion in 2009–10 to $5.2 billion in 2018–19 before declining to $5.0 billion in 2019–20.

In 2019–20, spending on referred medical services decreased in real terms by 0.1% as compared with 2018–19. Spending by the Australian Government increased by 1.7% ($0.3 billion) while non-government entities decreased by 5.5% ($0.3 billion) in 2019-20.

Over the decade, referred medical expenses increased by an average of 3.4% each year. This was as a result of 3.3% average annual growth by the Australian Government and 3.7% by non-government funding.

Note that when the full in-hospital MBS spending has been allocated to public and private hospital areas in future reports, the spending on referred medical services will be reduced accordingly (for Australian Government, Private health insurance providers, and Individuals). See <MBS, PBS in hospitals> for more details.