No payments, copayments and faux payments: Are medical practitioners adequately equipped to manage Medicare claiming and compliance?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Internal Medicine Journal, 2015, 45 (2), pp. 221 - 227
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Royal Australasian College of Physicians. The complexity of Medicare claiming means it is often beyond the comprehension of many, including medical practitioners who are required to interpret and apply Medicare every day. A single Medicare service can be the subject of 30 different payment rates, multiple claiming methods and a myriad of rules, with severe penalties for non-compliance, yet the administrative infrastructure and specialised human resourcing of Medicare may have decreased over time. As a result, medical practitioners experience difficulties accessing reliable information and support concerning their claiming and compliance obligations. Some commentators overlook the complexity of Medicare and suggest that deliberate misuse of the system by medical practitioners is a significant contributor to rising healthcare costs, although there is currently no empirical evidence to support this view. Quantifying the precise amount of leakage caused by inappropriate claiming has proven an impossible task, although current estimates are $1-3 billion annually. The current government's proposed copayment plan may cause increases in non-compliance and incorrect Medicare claiming, and a causal link has been demonstrated between medical practitioner access to Medicare education and significant costs savings. Medicare claiming is a component of almost every medical interaction in Australia, yet most education in this area currently occurs on an ad hoc basis. Research examining medical practitioner experiences and understanding regarding Medicare claiming and compliance is urgently required to adapt medicine responsibly to our rapidly changing healthcare environment.
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