Medicare and Bulk Billing

Medicare

Medical care in Australia is really top notch and we are grateful that Medicare benefits are made available for migrants on permanent resident visas.

When we first landed in Melbourne yonks ago, amongst the first things we did was to apply for medicare benefits and Medicare cards for the whole family.

In the early days, we were quite puzzled by the “Bulk Billing” signages & decals prominently displayed at the front of some GP clinics. We also noted that these clinics tend to be busier with heaps more patients.

What bulk billing entails is well explained here.

Essentially, it means that the clinic will charge the government directly for common services rendered such as consultations with a GP, vaccinations, blood tests etc. You generally are not required to pay out of pocket for these. However, costs of prescribed medications are not covered under bulk billing.

This is a stark departure from the practice in Singapore where GPs (especially those in private clinics) prescribe, supply and charge for the medications. In Australia, you will be given a prescription form (for non off the shelf medicines) to purchase medicines from pharmacies.

Pharmacies range from the smallish shops normally found in shopping centres to the mega warehouse types that open 24/7. Personally, we buy our medications based on convenience of locations, even though prices are lower (generally speaking) in big stores such as “Chemist Warehouse”.

These days, you could also opt to shop using online pharmacies and if a doctor’s prescription is needed, you just need to upload the document!

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