Published Papers - Abstract 536

Dolja-Gore X, Byles J, Loxton D, Hockey R & Dobson A. Increased bulk-billing for general practice consultations and reduced inequity in regional and remote areas, 2002-2008. Medical Journal of Australia, 2011; 195(4): 203-204

In 2004, Medicare introduced incentives for bulk-billing for concession card holder and children under 16, and for eligible patients in rural and remote areas, selected metropolitan areas, and Tasmania. Bulk-billing rates (out-of-pocket costs for general practitioner consultations) for participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) were examined by area of residence for the period 2002-2008. Participants were from 3 cohorts, women born 1973-78 (n =3546 ), women born 1946-51 (n = 6697) and women born 1921-26 (3631), and area of residence was classified as major city, inner regional, outer regional, remote or very remote. From 2005, the proportion of older women with no out-of-pocket costs increased across all areas, especially in remote and very remote areas. The mid-aged and younger women were less likely to have no out-of-pocket costs, but their bulk-billing rates increased. Access to bulk-billing has improved, although some inequity remains for women in regional areas. The impact of the concession card holder incentive may have been greater than the geographical targeting.