Don't be Afraid of the Doctor

Key Bulk Billing Questions to Ask Before Signing up to a New Clinic

If you need to find a new GP and you want to bulk bill, then you shouldn't just sign up with the first clinic you find that offers this payment method. You'll get better use of the service if you find a clinic that works for your health needs as comprehensively as possible.

Asking the following questions helps you shortlist suitable doctors.

Are You Eligible for Bulk Billing?

A GP can advertise that they bulk bill; however, this doesn't mean that they offer the service to all their patients. Some clinics give this payment method to all patients that are eligible through Medicare, while others restrict eligibility.

For example, a clinic might offer bulk billing to selected people who fall into certain categories. If you're a student or of pension age, then you might get bulk billing. If you aren't in a qualifying group, you may have to pay upfront and claim your costs back through Medicare.

So, before you register with a clinic, check that you can bulk bill if this is the way you want to go. If you don't meet a clinic's criteria, you may need to find a different doctor or use the rebate system.

Does the Clinic Have Any Special Restrictions?

Even if a clinic would accept you as a bulk billing patient, it may restrict the claims process in certain situations. For example, not all the GPs in a clinic always have to bulk bill.

If you want to see a doctor who has been recommended to you, then you need to check if they take payment this way. If you want any GP you see to be a bulk-biller, then you need all doctors in the clinic to offer this option.

Some clinics also set limits on when you can use bulk billing. For example, they may only do this during certain appointment times.

If you see a doctor outside of these times, you might have to pay upfront for that appointment and claim a rebate. You may also have extra out-of-pocket costs if you take an appointment outside of the regular working week, say on a Saturday.

It's also a good idea to talk to the clinic to see if it has any specific rules for types of treatment. There may be times when you need a treatment that could technically be bulk billed but the clinic excludes it from this payment method.

So, make sure to talk to a clinic before you register. This helps you find bulk billing doctors that will accept you on this basis and who will offer you comprehensive options.

To learn more, contact a bulk billing doctor.