UPFRONT fees for cancer patients will be a hidden cost of the Abbott Government's GP co-payment package, according to an independent body.
The Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA) says patients will be forced to pay $90 upfront for every X-ray, $380 for every CAT scan, up to $160 for every mammogram and $190 for every ultrasound.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the costs, "a hidden trap in the Abbott Government's GP Tax package, will force many cancer patients in Ipswich to pay extraordinary fees upfront, even those on healthcare and pensioner concession cards".
But the claims have been refuted by the office of Minister for Health Peter Dutton. A spokesman for Mr Dutton said individual diagnostic providers would decide what they charge under the government's plan, as they do now.
"Under the proposed co-payment measure, where practices charge a co-payment of $7 then the imaging practice will-receive the Medicare rebate directly as currently occurs with bulk billed services and the only out of pocket expense for the patient will be the $7 co-payment," the spokesman said.
"It is anticipated that this will be the approach taken by most diagnostic imaging providers for most patients.
"Diagnostic imaging providers will continue to determine the fees they charge. The impact of the patient contribution budget measure on the affordability of diagnostic imaging services will depend largely on the business decisions of individual diagnostic providers.
Mr Neumann said the impacts of the government plans would hit working class Ipswich hard.
"People will have to make choices about whether they meet their household needs or whether they meet the upfront costs for X-rays, CAT scans, mammograms and MRIs," he said. "So we see that people will be out of pocket for more than (Health Minister) Peter Dutton has let on.
"This is a very significant impact on people's income on top of the money we thought they would have to pay."
Mr Neumann went on to say that the GP Tax was "not just a tax on visits to the doctor, it's also a pathology tax, a diagnostic imaging tax, and an MRI Tax".
But the spokesman for Mr Dutton said "the government is asking Australians to make a modest co-payment of $7 when they visit the doctor to strengthen Medicare and keep it sustainable into the future".
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