The Four Corners Program on the ABC a couple of weeks ago talked about over servicing and overcharging by certain doctors.

In my own practice, we have never charged more than the AMA fees, which we guard as a reasonable representation of our practice costs and expertise.

It is important to realize that the MBS schedule, (which is the schedule of fees developed by the government in which the government feel reflect the cost of providing services by medical practitioners) has not changed in a meaningful sense for many years. Indeed, up until a couple of years ago, there was a complete freeze on the MBS schedule.

The fees we charge to run our practices are becoming increasingly distant from the government fee. You may know, if you’re having a surgical procedure in a private hospital, the government will give you approximately 75 or 85% of that fee depending upon the service provided. Your private health fund will top up the remainder if you are fully insured. Knowing that these fees have not changed for many years, and in recognition of the fact that the Australian Medical Association has increased fees at CPI to get around this problem, there is, of course, an increasing gap as time passes.

In my opinion, this situation can be far from manageable in the longer term. People are facing larger and larger out of pocket expenses when they undergo a surgical procedure.

The purpose of this article is to state that we are not involved in over servicing or overcharging as some doctors are. These doctors provide the rest of the provision, largely very responsible and sensible practitioners, with a poor reputation. This reputation is not deserved, our training is rigours and extensive and you should remember that it takes most doctors about 13 to 15 years to become a specialist. This is a long time to invest in a profession.

Therefore, Once we are entirely transparent with our fees, we do need to recoup the costs of running our business. You may know that our medical insurance is about $125,000 dollars per year. This might give you some idea of the cost of running a business.

In certain situations, we will agree to be involved in a known gap or no gap product. For those who are in significant financial hardship and perhaps for the retired who are self-funded, we will, of course, make these allowances.

We will also always give you a quote before a surgery, therefore you’ll never be surprised by the size of your bill.

Finally, if you’re at any time concerned about this, you must not feel constrained in any way to discuss the matter with myself or my staff.

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