Patients won’t pay for pap smears if plan goes ahead

PATIENTS are likely to refuse to undergo blood tests and pap smears if they suddenly have to pay for them.

That's the view of Sunshine Coast GP and Australian Medical Association of Queensland representative Dr Wayne Herdy.

"The general principal is, if our patients have to pay for blood tests, they won't do it," Dr Herdy said.

"This will compromise the quality of care we can deliver."

Doctors were still in the dark as to what changes the Federal Government introduced over the holiday period as part of the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and how they would impact on medical services.

A petition to Health Minister Sussan Ley on Change.org claimed the government was cutting bulk billing incentives for pap smears, MRI scans, urine/blood tests, X-rays and ultrasounds.

College of Pathologists of Australia president Michael Harrison said patients would "have to pay at least $30 for a pap smear, urine or blood test and potentially up to $173 for an MRI scan".

But Minister Ley said there were "no changes proposed" regarding the "cost of either receiving or delivering a physical pap smear examination".

There was also no reduction in the dollar-value of the Medicare rebate a patient received to undertake associated pathology tests.

What was changing related to "inefficient payment" worth between $1.40 and $3.40 paid direct to pathology corporations separate to the Medicare rebate.

Dr Herdy called on the minister to spell out what the changes would mean.

"This debate started over the holiday period, where everyone had their minds elsewhere. Politicians know this," Dr Herdy said.

Medicare Local's Dr Peter Dobson said many people were not in a financial position to put health at the top of their priority list.

"If the total remuneration for pathology drops, private companies are under pressure to look at how they can get remuneration. The whole cost is passed on to patients," he said.


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