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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7660


Senator Chris Evans asked the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 10 October 2002:

In each federal electoral division, for each of the following financial years: (a) 1996-97; and (b) 2001-02:

(1) How many general practitioners provided a bulk billing service.

(2) How many general practitioners bulk billed less than 5 per cent of medical services.

(3) How many general practitioners bulk billed more than 5 per cent but less than 25 per cent of medical services.

(4) How many general practitioners bulk billed more than 25 per cent but less than 50 per cent of medical services.

(5) How many general practitioners bulk billed more than 50 per cent but less than 75 per cent of medical services.

(6) How many general practitioners bulk billed more than 75 per cent but less than 95 per cent of medical services.

(7) How many general practitioners bulk billed more than 95 per cent of medical services.

(8) Assigning each general practitioner to his or her principal practice postcode in the last quarter of the financial year having regard to service volumes, how many general practitioners practised.


Senator Patterson (Minister for Health and Ageing) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The requested Medicare statistics cannot be provided at the individual electorate or postcode level due to possible confidentiality considerations. The workload involved in identifying and suppressing or combining confidential cells in tables cannot be justified.

Under subsection 130(5) of the Health Insurance Act 1973, it is possible to publish Medicare statistics, provided that such publication does not enable the identification of an individual patient or practitioner.

In a number of postcodes, there may be only a small number of general practitioners practising under Medicare, or a small number of general practitioners rendering the majority of services. Similarly, in a number of electorates there may be only a small number of providers in a particular percentage of services bulk billed range. In accordance with appropriate statistical best practices, on which the Department is guided by relevant Australian Bureau of Statistics practices, it is not appropriate to publish statistics in these circumstances. Similar considerations apply to statistics by patient enrolment region.

Separate arrangements have been put in place covering the regular provision of non-confidential bulk billing statistics by electorate, as part of the proceedings of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee.