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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 822

Mr MacKELLAR(11.04) —I want to take up the point on which the Minister for Health keeps insisting both inside and outside the House, that is, that we are illogical by saying that we should not have bulk billing but we should have gap insurance. What he conveniently failed to mention at any stage in his rejection of this proposition is that even with the gap insurance the patient gets a bill from the doctor. Therefore, there is a real appreciation by both the medico and his or her patient of the costs involved in health services.

In this debate about the costs of health services we must bring home to the practitioners and the recipients the ever-escalating costs of providing high quality health care. When I receive a bill-I do not know whether the Minister is different-whether or not I am insured, I study it very carefully. If there are aspects of the bill which do not accord with my recollection of events, I take action about it. The doctors who provide the bills must check that the services being charged for were actually provided. So there is a double check on both the provider and the recipient of the health services in relation to the services being provided, and there is also a much clearer understanding of the costs of the services being provided.

If the Minister wishes to conceal from the public the true costs of providing health care services in this country, one of the best ways of doing it is to insist upon or direct people towards bulk billing. That will conceal the costs. The patients will not know how much it costs when they go to the doctor. As far as they are concerned, it does not cost them anything. So, for sure, they will not have an appreciation of the escalating costs of health care. The only time when they may have some understanding of this is when the results of the increased services come upon them annually, evidenced by the increased taxes they will have to pay to provide for those services.