Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Health Insurance Amendment (90 Day Pay Doctor Cheque Scheme) Bill 2008
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill will amend the Health Insurance Act 1973 to allow specialists and consultant physicians access to the 90 Day Pay Doctor Cheque Scheme where the original claim is submitted to Medicare Australia using an electronic claiming channel. The existing 90 Day Pay Doctor Cheque Scheme only applies to general practitioners, and this will continue.
When a patient submits an unpaid claim to Medicare Australia, the patient is presented with a pay-doctor cheque. A pay-doctor cheque is a cheque for the amount of Medicare rebate that is made out to the medical practitioner that provided the service. This cheque is provided to the patient who is then responsible for forwarding the cheque on to the medical practitioner along with any co-payment required to satisfy the full account. This arrangement enables patients to use their Medicare rebates towards the payment of their medical bill.
The majority of patients do present the pay-doctor cheques to their doctor; however, some cheques are either presented very late or never received by the practitioner, leading to lengthy delays or bad debts which practices need to chase up, adding cost to their practice. The 90 Day Pay Doctor Cheque Scheme is currently only available to general practitioners. This scheme allows Medicare Australia to cancel the pay-doctor cheque if it is not banked by the practitioner within 90 days and make direct payment via electronic funds transfer to the medical practitioner.
This amendment makes the scheme available to all specialists and consultant physicians where the original claim has been submitted to Medicare Australia via an electronic claiming channel. This amendment will be of benefit to patients, specialists and consultant physicians. Specialist use of the pay-doctor cheque has been declining. Allowing these practitioners access to the scheme will encourage more specialists to accept payment through the use of this facility as it provides assurance that they will receive some payment for the services rendered.
Allowing access to the 90 Day Pay Doctor Cheque Scheme for specialists and consultant physicians will provide an incentive for specialists and consultant physicians to use electronic claiming of Medicare benefits. Electronic claiming allows the doctor’s office to submit a patient’s account directly to Medicare Australia on behalf of the patient. This will be of benefit to patients, as they will not be required to visit a Medicare office to claim their pay-doctor cheque.
Debate (on motion by Mrs Bronwyn Bishop) adjourned.