I’m sick. This is very unusual, as I am never sick.
That’s if you don’t count hangovers, of course.
So, being a sick little puppy, I dragged myself off to the doctor. I entered with some trepidation, what with the media being full of ‘health crisis’ headlines.
There is of course a crisis in Australia’s health care…
The medical indemnity crisis that is exploding in Australia is caused by a massive increase in medical indemnity insurance. This has many causes, but it seems to me that one cause is that there’s a surfeit of lawyers in Australia. At any rate, a GP now needs to spend prodigious sums to insure themselves against lawsuits. Specialists are leaving the profession as a result of having to insure themselves up to 25 years after they retire.
Needless to say, the result of this is that doctors need more money. And so now they bill their patients.
Under the old scheme, most doctors would ‘bulk-bill’. You’d hand over your medicare card, sign a form, and the doctor would send a bill off to the Federal government, who would pay the doctor a set fee.
Now, few doctors can do that and make enough money to live on. So they charge their own fees, and what happens is that you give your medicare card, sign a form, pay the bill, (In my case it was $35) and you get a cheque back for about $25 back from the government in six weeks time.
This is not entirely a bad thing. For one thing, doctors surgeries are less cluttered then of old, as hypocondriacs are cleared out. Amazing how you can soldier on when you have to pony up money.
As it is, doctors at my surgery still are willing to bulk bill for old people and people hard on their luck. This is an ideal system to me. Those of us who are earning a living should pay doctors what they are worth, and the government helps out for the genuinely hard up.
The Australian health care system is pretty good; despite what you hear in the media about a ‘crisis’ caused by lack of funding. Next time you read such a headline, ask yourself when was the last time that you heard a government funded health, or education, or whatever system say that ‘we have enough money’. There is a crisis caused by the readiness of Australians to sue their doctor at the drop of a stethescope, but that isn’t the government’s fault.
Be that as it may, I entered the doctor’s surgery, and introduced myself to the doctor. (My regular doctor only works two days a week.) I was quickly examined, the doctor explained the nature of the flu that I have, prescribed me some antibiotics, and sent me on my way. Fast, prompt, friendly and efficient.
Amazing how there’s not much of a crisis when there’s no lawyers or politicians present.