GPs faced with 'co-payment by stealth'

Patients could be compelled to pay for visits to the doctor, with Health Department figures showing the government's indexation freeze would leave GPs $2 worse off by 2018.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and federal Labor say the government's four-year indexation freeze on Medicare rebates amounts to a "co-payment by stealth", despite the government having dumped its plan for a $5 patient co-payment earlier this year.

They point to a University of Sydney study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, which estimates GPs will have to charge non-concession patients an extra $8.43 a visit by 2017/18 to make up for a 7.1 per cent drop in income.

Health department modelling, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, suggests benefits for standard GP consultations will be $2.10 less by 2017/18 under the freeze.

It says the indexation freeze will save $1.3 billion over four years.