Bulk-billing refers to a system of billing where the doctor does not charge the patient directly for the services rendered but bills Medicare instead. As such, if you visit a medical centre that accepts bulk-billing, you will not be expected to pay anything out of your pocket. The Medicare benefits that the doctor will receive are at a usually subsidized (reduced) rate compared to the alternative. The alternative to bulk-billing is known as private billing. It involves the patient catering for their medical expenses.
During private billing, the doctor will partially bill Medicare, with the remaining amount to be paid by the patient out of their pocket or by their private insurance. The system of bulk-billing at medical centres is beneficial for both the doctor and the patient. However, the doctor or medical centre may suffer some disadvantages. This article highlights some of the benefits and drawbacks.
For the patient
The patient is considered the biggest beneficiary of the existence of bulk-billing medical centres. The patient does not suffer any form of a disadvantage as a result of bulk-billing.
- Medical centres that prefer bulk-billing offer a lot of convenience to the patients. You can visit the doctor's office on any day that you feel ill regardless of your financial situation. You will not spend anything at the medical centre because the doctor at the medical centre will bill Medicaid, and not you. As such, regardless of whether you are financially constrained or financially stable, you are eligible to visit such centres.
- The process of billing is straightforward. At a bulk-billing medical centre, you do not have to wait on long queues for long periods waiting for your billing information to be processed as is common during private billing. During bulk-billing, they will swipe your Medicare card, after which you will sign.
- You do not have to worry about the quality of services you will receive. Doctors who prefer bulk-billing are equally as proficient in their work as doctors who prefer private billing. This is because they are more inclined towards service provision as opposed to profit making.
For the doctor/ Medical Centre
- Doctors at medical centres receive a lot of patients on any given day. This is primarily because of the convenience that such medical centres offer to the patients.
- Doctors that prefer bulk-billing tend to be very respected among their peers.
- The main disadvantage is that the doctor or medical centre will not make as much money per patient compared to their counterparts who prefer private billing. This is because Medicaid benefits are highly subsidized.