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Health costs soaring

28 October 2011 - 2:14pm

Out of pocket health costs for Australians have soared to $1 billion, according to a recent study.

Results of the Australia Institute's Bulky Billing: Missing out on fair and affordable health care survey found that an average of $900 a year was paid for health services.

The institute claims that the Medicare system is in need of review and tighter pricing controls on doctors and pharmacists were required to reduce the financial burdens on families without private health insurance needing healthcare.

Research fellow David Baker said GPs have significant discretion over how much patients pay, not just for their consultation, but for drugs, pathology screenings and diagnostic tests.

"Incentive payments to service providers to encourage bulk billing clearly are not working and the fact that there needs to be safety net policies for what is supposed to be universal health care is evidence that the system needs its own check-up," said Mr Baker.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australians' out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare was only $497 a year in 1999 and now accounts for 2.8 per cent of household expenditure.