Official departmental figures show that 85.4 per cent of GP services were bulk billed with no out of pocket expenses for patients in June-September 2016.
The Department of Health and the Department of Human Services figures are the official Medicare statistics to measure bulk-billing rates.
The GP non-referred attendance bulk billing rate of 85.4 per cent is a record figure and it increased from 84.6 per cent in the June-September 2015.
The Government rejects claims published today in the Sunday Herald Sun and Sunday Telegraph that the GP “free” service figures are “inflated” and are not the “true” figures.
The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, said the official GP services figures were correct and the measure was the same as Labor had used when in government.
“The reality is that no government has overseen higher bulk billing rates than the Turnbull Government and we are increasing investment in Medicare by $4 billion over the next four years to help ensure that health remains affordable,” she said.
The report in the News Limited newspapers today claimed the Parliamentary Budget Office had estimated that the “true” figure for bulk billing was 81 per cent.
This figure relies on a single item for a standard GP consultation and excludes a range of other GP medical services provided to patients with no out-of-pocket costs. These other bulk-billed services include health assessments, mental health items and chronic disease management items.
Ms Ley said reliance on a narrow measure of bulk billing was not the preferred official measure because it failed to provide a comprehensive picture of all patient services.
Ms Ley said that even using the single-item Medicare figure showed that bulk billing rates for the most common GP consultations were more than 80 per cent and had risen over the past three years.
“No matter how Labor tries to spin the official Medicare figures, GP consults are being bulk billed at no cost to patients for more than 80 per cent of services under the Turnbull Government. This is higher than under Labor and no amount of Bill Shorten’s Medicare lies can change that fact,” she said.