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Level of observance of common fees



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PRESS STATEMENT BY THE COMMONWEALTH MINISTER FOR HEALTH. SENATOR SIR KENNETH ANDERSON .

LEVEL OF OBSERVANCE OP COMMON FEES

The Minister for Health, Senator Sir Kenneth

Anderson, to-day released figures which showed the level of

observance of the most common fees by medical practitioners

throughout Australia during the quarter ended September 30,

1971.

The figures are compiled from claims processed

by the major medical benefits organisations in each State.

The statement includes previously released figures for the

March 1971 and June 1971 quarters for the purposes of compa.rison

(Attachment A).

Senator Anderson said that in general the high

level of observance of the most common fees for the earlier

quarters had been maintained for the majority of services in

most States. However, there had been a marked decline in the

level of observance in the case of general practitioner surgery

consultations and home visits in New South Wales.

The fees for' general practitioner surgery

consultations and home visits were increased in all States on

July 1, 1971. Following advice by the Federal Executive of the

Australian Medical Association to the Government as to the new

levels of fees recommended, the most common fees were adjusted

on the same date. Because there is usually a lag of some weeks

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"between the date a medical service is given and the date a .

contributor.' s claim for medical benefits is processed by his

fund, the figures i n .Attachment A for the quarter ended

September 30, 1971, include a proportion of services rendered

before July 1, 1971. Accordingly a separate analysis has been

made of the September quarter figures as between the general

practitioner services rendered prior to July 1, 1971 and those

rendered after that date (Attachment B). .

In New South V/ales the observance of the most

common fee by general practitioners for surgery consultations

for services rendered before July 1, 1971 was 74$. It fell to

53$ for services rendered from that date. The observance figures

for home visits by general practitioners were 67$ and 35$

respectively. -Senator Anderson said that a decline in the level

of observance of most common fees for these services in New South

Wales in the September quarter was a direct result of the fact

that 16 out of 27 local associations of the Australian Medical

Association in New South Wales recommended to its members fees

in excess of those notified to the Government by the Federal

Executive of the Australian Medical Association - namely $3.80 for

general practitioner surgery consultations and $5.05 for home

visits. Of the 16 local associations, two recommended $3.90 and

eight recommended fees of $4 for surgery consultations. The

remainder recommended fees ranging up to $4.60. These associations

are mainly in the Sydney metropolitan area. The same associations

recommended correspondingly higher fees for home visits by general

practitioners.

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. The Minister said that, although the extra amounts·

involved for individual patients were in many cases not great,

he was concerned that the decisions of some local associations

in New South Wales had led to the decline in the observance of the

most common fees and the matter was under discussion with the

Australian Medical Association. .

The Minister went on to say that notwithstanding

the development in relation to general practitioner surgery

consultation and home visit fees in New South Wales the degree

of observance of the most common fees throughout the remainder

of the Schedule was generally satisfactory. It was particularly

notable that in the high cost medical services, e.g., operations

and obstetrics, a high degree of observance had generally been

maintained. .

In other States the figures showed that members of

the medical profession were following the advice of the Federal

Executive to abide by the principle of the common fee concept.

Senator Anderson said that he was particularly

^ratified that the financial protection the medical benefits

plan was designed to provide for patients whose doctors charged

the most common fees was in fact being achieved to a substantial

extent. The fact that observance was greatest for the higher cost

services meant that insured patients were receiving this protection

when they most needed it.

CANBERRA, 6/1/1972 Dept. No. 1

ATTACHMENT A : MEDICAL BENEFITS - PERCENTAGE LEVEL OF OBSERVANCE OF THE MOST COMMON FES FOR ALL GROUPS - BY STATES

Quarters ended March, 1971; June, 1971; and September, 1971

. New South · Wales

· .

Victoria + ;

Queensland

South Australia

Western Australia

Tasmania

Mar 1971

June 1971

Sept 1971

Sept 1971 . . Mar

' 1971 June 1971 Sept Mar

1971

June 1971

Sept 1971

Mar 1971

June 1971

Sept 1971

Mar 1971

June 1971

Sept 1971

% % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % General practitioner Surgery consultations 76 75 6 6 72 74 73 73 89 8 8 8 9 90 90 8 8 65 63 63

Home Visits 6 8 67 56 70 ; 71 . 69 70 78 77 79 74 71 69 50 48 53

Specialist Initial consultations 73 73 73 78 91 91 91 8 6 8 6 87 72 67 6 5 57 59 6 0

Subsequent Consultations 54 55 • 53 6 6 78 77 7 8 79 78 79 79 77 76 6 0 57 59

Consultant physician Initial consultations 97 96 96 75 92 91 93 84 8 6 8 6 8 5 87 84 92 87 8 2

Subsequent consultations 77 77 76 57 87 8 8 85 67 70 6 8 84 . 8 2 8 2 79 75 70

Obstetric 72 73 74 67 6 6 69 65 8 2 8 0 81 8 2 8 0 8 0 8 1 77 8 0

Anaesthetic 84 8 6 87 8 0 85 87 8 7 90 90 90 8 1 8 0 8 1 85 79 78

Miscellaneous Procedures 83 85 85 79 79 78 77 8 0 8 2 8 2 89 8 8 90 8 1 77 72

Pathology 94 94 95 87 96 97 97 97 97 97 8 8 8 7 8 6 98 98 98

Radiology 79 79 79 70 59 51 55 85 87 89 92 96 98 8 7 8q 88

Assistance at Operation 76 77 79 69 90 90 89 90 90 91 85 88 8 9 89 78 75

Operations 8 1 8 1 8 2 67 78 79 77 8 1 8 2 83 83 84 8 2 78 78 78

Whole of schedule 77 76 71 72 76 75 75 87 8 7 88 88 8 7 86 70 68 68

* Percentage of services for which the most common fee or less was charged based on a survey of claims processed b.y the principal registered medica] benefit organisations in each State in the quarterly periods shown.

+ Victorian figures not available prior to September 1971 quarter.

ATTACHMENT B : MEDICAL BENEFITS - PERCENTAGE LEVEL OF OBSERVANCE* OF THE MOST COMMON FEE - BY STATES

GENERAL PRACTITIONER SURGERY CONSULTATIONS AND HOME VISITS -

Quarter ended September 1971

' Service

New South Wales Victoria Queensland South

Australia

Western Australia

Tasmania

% % % % % %

General practitioner Surgery consultations -Pre-July 1971 services 74 72 73 87 88 61

Services from July 1971 onwards 53 73 72 91 90 66 .

Home visits - .

Pre-July 1971 services 67 . 71 70 77 72 49

Services from July 1971 onwards 35 69 68 8 2 65 58

* Percentage of services for which the most common fee or less was charged baser) on a survey of claims processed by the principal registered medical benefit organisations in each State. .