Mend Medicare calls for urgent overhaul

The coalition, which calls itself Mend Medicare, includes the Public Health Association of Australia and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, the Mental Health Council of Australia, Catholic Health Australia, and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

It has compiled a report which points to rising out-of-pocket costs for patients, and waiting times for urgent GP appointments, as symptoms of a system in need of repair.

The report said the average out-of-pocket cost for a visit to non-bulk billing doctors, including GPs and specialists, was $46.50 in 2012, up from about $30 five years previously.

It said the proportion of people waiting more than a day to get an urgent appointment with a GP has more than doubled to almost 30% in the past four years. 

Consumers Health Forum CEO Carol Bennett said patients with chronic illness faced rising out-of-pocket costs and barriers in getting access to the right care.