Part 2: Seeing the doctor and getting a prescription
Seeing the doctor (general practitioner)
Doctors receive a scheduled fee from Medicare for different work performed. If you go to a ‘bulk billing’ medical practice, you will not have to pay anything extra – the cost of the visit is paid to the doctor by Medicare.
If you go to a regular (non-bulk bill) doctor you will pay the full doctors fee, then get the balance refunded by Medicare.
While previously seeing the doctor meant completing a form and posting or going to a Medicare office, now a lot of doctors process your Medicare claim automatically when your pay your bill.
My doctor currently charges about $68 for a short visit and I get $33 back a few weeks later.
Getting prescriptions – Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
The PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) allows for Australians to get cheaper medicines that are subsidised by the government. If the medicine is on the PBS list the price may be 10% or 20% of the original cost if the medicine is not on the list.
Factors like the cost of the medicine, if the medicine is established (rather than experimental) and whether the medicine has a need in the community will determine if it makes the PBS list.
For example I take two types of insulin for my type 1 diabetes. I switched to a new type of insulin and was paying $220 for 3 months supply but now pay $25 for the same quantity because it has been listed on the PBS list.