As we begin the descent toward Christmas and the end of year it’s hard to believe 2023 will soon be behind us. It has been an exceptionally busy year for us at Country SA PHN. As part of our vision to close the gap in health inequity for country South Australians we are supporting the Department of Health and Aged Care reforms to strengthen Medicare as recommended by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report (December 2022).
In this report the Taskforce’s vision to strengthen Medicare includes:
Our vision is of a primary care system where:
All Australians are supported to be healthy and well, through access to equitable, affordable, person-centred primary care services, regardless of where they live and when they need care, with financing that supports sustainable primary care, and a system that is simple and easy for people to navigate for people and their health care providers.
Encapsulated in this vision, and one of the broader Report pillar commitments, is the MyMedicare program. MyMedicare seeks to respond to the Federal Government’s Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan’s fifth aim of equity for improved patient outcomes, provider experience, health system efficiency and population health outcomes.
At Country SA PHN we work to close the gap in health inequity for the country South Australian communities we serve. It is our vulnerable populations including but not limited to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disability, culturally and linguistically diverse people, LGBTIQA+ people, people on low incomes and people living in rural and remote areas that require additional support to gain equitable access to primary care.
MyMedicare seeks to address the challenges of equitable access including addressing the sharp decline in bulk billing as a significant barrier to accessing primary health care. MyMedicare is a free, voluntary patient registration scheme that aims to strengthen the relationship between patients, their General Practitioner (GP), and their primary care team. It allows patients to register with their chosen general practice and select their preferred GP to encourage continuity of care that is strongly associated with better health outcomes. MyMedicare supports an ongoing relationship between patients and their primary care team, who know the patient, and to increase the focus of care on wellness. MyMedicare will provide practices with more comprehensive information about their regular patients, while giving patients and their care team access to additional funding packages, tailored to the patient’s health and wellness needs.
MyMedicare will also support longer Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) funded telephone consultations (Levels C (longer than 20 minutes) and D (longer than 40 minutes)). These may be of particular benefit to those vulnerable populations outlined above.
From 1 November 2023, triple bulk billing incentives are now available for longer MBS telehealth consultations (Levels C, D and E) for children under 16, pensioners, and Commonwealth concession card holders.
From August 2024, residential aged care home residents who are registered with MyMedicare may receive more regular visits and better care planning as their GP will receive additional incentives to provide this proactive care.
Progressively from mid-2024 there will be new blended funding payments to support connections to more appropriate care in general practice for people with chronic conditions or who visit hospital frequently.
Practices that provide services to patients of vulnerable populations who would particularly benefit from the new MyMedicare linked MBS longer telehealth services or provide care to people in residential aged care are encouraged to discuss MyMedicare registration with these priority cohorts.
Patients can register in their Medicare online account, through the Medicare app or in person at their preferred practice.
For support with practice or patient registration please see our website: https://www.countrysaphn.com.au/prepare-for-mymedicare/ or contact our Primary Care & Digital Health Team at email@example.com.
As we move forward to support more equitable access to primary health care now and into the future, I would like to acknowledge all those primary health care professionals in country South Australia who are embracing the changes and the challenges that MyMedicare and other reforms are presenting while simultaneously continuing to provide high quality primary care to their patients.