THE Hunter is home to some of the biggest medical bills for people who visit their family doctor 12 or more times per year in Australia.
It is ranked 11th nationally with an average Medicare Benefits Schedule bill of $2422 per person for people falling into that category.
That takes into account the cost of GP visits, medical specialist visits, blood tests and diagnostic imaging services, as well as other out-of-hospital costs. The statistics, released by the National Health Performance Authority, show that overall, Australians see GPs 5.6 times per year on average.
However, many others see a GP more often and are of ‘‘considerable interest’’ to health system managers and clinicians because in many cases these patients have the greatest need for effective and well co-ordinated health care. ‘‘Improvements targeted at these patients therefore have the potential to bring significant benefits in terms of patient outcomes and system efficiencies,’’ the report, Healthy Communities, says.
National Health Performance Authority chief executive officer Dr Diane Watson said the findings provided unprecedented insights into the characteristics of people who visit GPs most often.
He said patients who see GPs much more than the average are of interest ... because they have the most need for effective, well co-ordinated health care.
“There will be different factors at play in each local area that may explain its mix of frequent and less frequent GP attenders. The report will give vital information to health providers in each community that may help them to better understand their unique patient populations.’’
More than one-third of Australians (35.3per cent) went to a GP six or more times in 2012-13.
Those who went most often tended to be older and less wealthy, were more likely to have several long-term health conditions and were more likely to see several different GPs.
Very high GP attenders visit a GP 20 or more times a year, and are a group that are generally quite unwell and also see a greater number of other service providers – four out of 10 had also visited an emergency department during the same 12-month period.
Read the full report: