Bulk billing is a service provided by certain medical practitioners in Australia, when they bill Medicare rather than their patients. If you've been told that bulk billing is an option for you, note a few questions you might have about this practice and what it entails, so you can decide if this is the right choice for your medical needs. This will ensure your medical bills are paid properly and you know how those bills get paid, so that nothing is overlooked.
What is bulk billing?
Bulk billing refers to a physician or medical centre that bills Medicare directly, rather than the patient. If you are covered with Medicare, and your physician uses bulk billing, you shouldn't expect to get a bill from them for anything other than treatment that Medicare doesn't cover, but the physician will send their bill to Medicare itself instead.
Does bulk billing affect the medical treatment a person receives?
Bulk billing only refers to how bills are paid, not the actual treatment your doctor recommends or administers. You shouldn't expect to get lower quality care, or more extensive treatments, from a bulk billing physician, but should receive the same treatment as you would from any doctor.
Note, however, that your doctor may recommend a treatment or medication that is not covered by Medicare. In this case, you would need to pay for that treatment yourself, and this would be true whether the doctor used bulk billing or not, as bulk billing doesn't affect your treatment, simply how Medicare is billed.
Can a person ask a doctor to bulk bill?
Doctors are not obligated to use bulk billing for their services; you can certainly ask a doctor if they would bill Medicare directly, but they have the choice of how they handle their billing and payments. This is true even if they accept Medicare coverage, as Medicare does not require doctors to use bulk billing in order to be paid by them.
Are you required to use a bulk billing doctor if you have Medicare?
You are not required to use a bulk billing doctor if you have Medicare coverage, but it may make the process easier for you. Without bulk billing, you may need to pay for services, and then you would need to get the reimbursement from Medicare. You may also get paperwork from Medicare about services for which they've paid, but mistakenly think it's a bill. Whatever the case, bulk billing can make it easier for you to manage payments. To learn more about your options, you should reach out to local bulk billing doctors.