Out-of-pocket costs driven by specialists

The University of Melbourne professor said the government needs to take aim at high-earning specialists to curb out-of-pocket healthcare costs, arguing that while Australia’s ageing society needed more general practitioners, the pay disparity was leading medical students to specialise. 

“The issue of total remuneration is important in that out-of-pocket expenses are a major way in which doctors can increase their incomes,” he said in a submission to the Community Affairs Reference Committee's inquiry into out-of-pocket costs. 

Professor Brooks, a rheumatologist, said data indicated income influenced medical students choosing whether to take up general practice.

He also criticised the lack of transparency in fee-setting for medical procedures across the board, but noted specialists had the advantage of performing more high-paying procedural work.  

The idea that vulnerable patients were equipped to question