When you access medical services, you can be bulk billed or given a patient account. Bulk billing is when 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 expenses. 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.
A patient account is when your doctor charges you a fee and you pay. You can then claim your Medicare benefit. Medicare may not cover the entire cost that you paid. The difference between the total account and your Medicare benefit is called a 'gap payment'.
If you need to see a doctor, you can ask if they bulk bill, and if they don't you can ask about the expected gap payment.
More information on bulk billing can be found at the Services Australia bulk billing page.
The benefits are paid straight into your bank account. You can claim your Medicare benefit in a number of ways such as:
- at your doctor's office
- through your Medicare Online account
- via the Express Plus mobile app
- by mail
There are other services that are related to Medicare, such as the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register and the Australian Organ Donor Register. A list of all Medicare services can be viewed at Services Australia.
For all Medicare general enquiries phone 132 011 (24hrs a day, 7 days a week). For further contact information go to the Services Australia website.
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Last reviewed: February 2020