Senate estimates: 5 things we learned about the Medicare rebate freeze

COMPETITION for patients is likely to keep bulk-billing levels stable, even as the Medicare rebate freeze continues, health department bureaucrats say.

In a revealing post-budget Senate estimates hearing, Department of Health secretary Martin Bowles and deputy secretary Andrew Stuart answered numerous questions about trends in bulk-billing and out-of-pocket costs.

Here are 5 things we learned - illustrated with grabs from the transcript, which we have highlighted:

1. Bulk billing is at an all-time high of 84.3%, and the rate has increased by one percentage point per annum