The federal government has welcomed the latest bulk billing statistics that show almost nine out of ten visits to the GP in the nine months to March 2021 were provided with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
GP bulk billing rates reached a high of 88.7 per cent for the period from July 2020 to March 2021.
This was three percentage points higher than the same period last year (85.7 per cent) and 6.7 percentage points higher than the same period in 2012-13 (82.0 per cent), said health minister Greg Hunt.
Across all Medicare services, the bulk billing rate reached 80.9 per cent.
"Telehealth changes to Medicare introduced for the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to high bulk billing, while also reducing the risk of spreading the disease in the community," said Minister Hunt.
"In the nine months to March 2021, Medicare paid benefits for 2.5 million COVID-19 video consultations and 34.1 million COVID-19 phone consultations provided by GPs, specialists and allied health professionals.
"The temporary telehealth items represented 24.8 per cent of GP consultations and 10.7 per cent of all Medicare services over the same period. In total, 30.2 million GP consultations were provided via phone and 630,394 million via video."