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Bulk billing for medical services

3-minute read

Key facts

  • Bulk billing refers to healthcare services provided at no cost to patients in Australia.
  • Your doctor bills Medicare directly and accepts the Medicare benefit as full payment for their service.
  • The ‘gap payment’ or ‘out of pocket’ cost refers to the difference between the amount the doctor charges, and the amount that is paid by Medicare.
  • Instead of paying a fee and seeking a rebate (repayment) through Medicare, your medical practitioner will bill Medicare for your visit directly, leaving you with no out of pocket expenses.

What is bulk billing?

Bulk billing means you don’t have to pay for your medical service from a health professional. For example, after a visit to your doctor, your doctor bills Medicare directly and accepts the Medicare benefit as full payment for their service. This means you do not have any out of pocket costs.

It is called bulk billing because the GP practice bills Medicare in 'bulk', that is, a collection of consultation services are billed to Medicare at the same time.

Bulk billing can cover:

  • visits to GPs and specialists
  • tests and scans like x-rays and pathology tests
  • eye tests performed by optometrists

How can I claim for medical services?

You can claim your Medicare benefit in a number of ways, for example:

A patient account is when your doctor charges you a fee and you pay for the service. You can then claim your Medicare benefit. Medicare may not cover the entire cost you paid. The difference between the total account and your Medicare benefit is called an out of pocket cost.

Not all health professionals bulk bill, so before you see a doctor, ask if they bulk bill, and if there will be any out of pocket costs.

Where can I get more information on Medicare services?

For more information on bulk billing visit the Services Australia bulk billing page.

There are other services related to Medicare, such as the Australian Immunisation Register and the Australian Organ Donor Register.

A list of all Medicare services is available at the Services Australia website. For all Medicare general enquiries phone 132 011 (24hrs a day, 7 days a week).

Read more on the healthdirect page What is Medicare?

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2022

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