News National GP co-payment will hit hospitals

GP co-payment will hit hospitals

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Hospital emergency wards would be inundated with extra patients under a GP co-payment system being considered by the Abbott government.

A survey, conducted just days ahead of the Tuesday’s budget, has found that most Australians oppose paying any co-payment to visit a GP.

The survey of 1000 people, commissioned by the Consumers Health Forum, found 72 per cent thought a $6 co-payment would send more people to hospital emergency wards.

Sixty-nine per cent said a $6 co-payment would also discourage people from visiting their GP.

Consumers Health Forum chief executive Adam Stankevicius said another survey of almost 600 consumers found co-payments would hit the chronically ill and those on low incomes the hardest.

“If people have to pay to see a doctor, a lot of things are going to change,” he said in a statement.

“If they are paying $6, then many people who are used to seeing a GP at no cost are going to put off a visit. Any introduction of a co-payment will be a clear barrier to primary health care.”

There has been speculation ahead of the budget that the coalition government will introduce a co-payment for GP visits of $7.50.