Health care—GPs & specialists

General practitioners

The Australian Government’s funding contributions to health care include the universal public health insurance scheme, Medicare. Medicare provides access for all Australian residents to medical and hospital services, including to general practitioners (GPs), medical specialists and public hospitals.

In 2016–17, there were just under 38 million Medicare claims for unreferred GP attendances for people aged 65 and over—29% of the total 130 million claims for unreferred GP attendances [2]. There were more than twice as many claims per person for those aged 65 and over than for those aged under 65 (10.0 compared with 4.4 claims) [2].

Overall usage rates for people aged 65 and over grew only slightly between 2005–06 and 2016–17, but have increased more sharply in recent years among people aged 85 and over (Figure 1). By total number, this oldest age group accounted for 6.9 million Medicare claims for unreferred GP attendances in 2016–17 (5% of all unreferred GP attendances).

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Medical specialists

There were 13.9 million specialist attendances claimed through Medicare in 2016–17 for people aged 65 and over (representing 45% of all specialist attendance claims) [2]. On average, people aged 65 and over made 4 times as many claims for specialist services as people aged under 65 (3.7 compared with 0.8 claims) [2].

Age-specific usage rates rose in the 10 years to 2016–17, particularly among people aged 75–84, and 85 and over (Figure 2).

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References

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017. Australian demographic statistics, Jun. 2017. ABS cat. no. 3101.0. Canberra: ABS.
  2. Department of Human Services (DHS) 2018. Medicare Australia statistics, MBS Group by patient demographics reports. Canberra: DHS. Viewed 05 February 2018.