Australian consumers face new challenges and changes in healthcare pricing. 

Stats show recent government initiatives to triple Medicare incentives have led to an uptick in bulk billing rates for general practitioner (GP) appointments. 

This policy, aimed at making healthcare more accessible, particularly benefits children under 16, pensioners, and concession card holders. 

Despite this positive shift, with a 2.1 per cent increase translating to 360,000 additional GP appointments in the first two months, challenges in accessibility and the cost of healthcare persist, especially in metropolitan areas and among those not covered by the scheme.

The Albanese government's decision to allocate $3.5 billion in the 2023-24 Budget for tripling the bulk billing incentive has led to an increase in bulk billing rates.

However, the initiative's reach is limited, and the disparity in access between regional and urban populations remains a concern. 

While regional areas have seen benefits, metropolitan residents are yet to experience the same level of improvement. Additionally, the plight of those ineligible for the increased Medicare incentives underscores the broader issue of healthcare affordability in Australia.

The cost of healthcare continues to be a significant barrier for many Australians, with a recent report revealing a record level of individuals avoiding GP visits due to financial constraints. 

Surveys indicate that 7 per cent of people have foregone seeing a GP in the past year because of cost concerns, a figure that has doubled from the previous financial year. 

Medication avoidance due to cost has also risen, further straining the health system and leading to increased emergency room visits.

Shadow Health Minister Anne Ruston has called for further action to address workforce issues and enhance the incentives for medical graduates to pursue general practice.