I decided to publish a few posts on converting bulk billing GP practice into private/mixed billing one. No week passes without my clients asking me questions about this process. Conversion to private billing is very common nowadays. The rising costs of running a GP clinic leave no choice for many practices but to go private.
The process of conversion is not straightforward and can be risky. Some practices lose clientele, doctors, money and reputation along the way. I will write more about this soon.
Some practices choose to charge their patients a subscription fee. They charge a $500-$1000 private fee for the first consultation of the year and then bulk bill all of the remaining attendances. This is not an illegal practice at all. However, this method has never been challenged by Medicare before either.
My prediction is that Medicare may argue later that charging $1000 for a standard consultation is not true service. That it is a sham designed to hide concurrent bulk billing and private billing.
The advantage of this method is that patients have security. They know that no matter how many more times they need to see a GP in the coming year, they will be bulk billed. This is especially beneficial for people who see their GP regularly.
I, personally, do not recommend the method of ‘subscription fee’. Firstly, this may be successfully argued by Medicare later on. Secondly, not all patients expect that they will need to see a doctor later in the year. They will be reluctant to pay a significant upfront fee.
There are other methods to convert your GP practice into a private or mixed billing one. It is worthwhile to invest in proper research. I promise, that there is a method that suits your practice making the process smooth.