Impact on MBS service utilisation

The following data visualisation provides an overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Medicare program. Total Medicare claiming can be seen on the Broad Type of Service (BTOS) comparison tab, and the volume of services and benefits paid for items more specific to COVID can be seen on the COVID items and GP attendances tabs. The bulk-billing incentive items detail the impact of both the introduction of bulk-billing incentive items specific to the pandemic response, and the temporary doubling of all Medicare bulk-billing incentive fees which ceased on 1 October 2020.

From September 2018 to December 2020 points of note are:

  • The unseasonably low volume of Medicare services processed in April 2020, including large falls across the pathology, optometry, operations and anaesthetics BTOS groups due to lockdown measures and the temporary ban on elective surgeries;
  • The introduction of temporary telehealth via video conference and/or telephone consultation items in March 2020, and the subsequent drop in face to face consultations, particularly for general practitioner consultations in Victoria during their second COVID wave (July to September 2020);
  • The large spike in brief (referred to as ‘obvious problem’ attendances) GP attendances in April 2020; and
  • The increase in benefits paid for incentive items during the period April 2020 to September 2020, where the fees associated with the temporary COVID-19 bulk-billing incentives items were doubled.

Interactive charts showing: (a) overview of temporary COVID-19 items introduced to the MBS by month; (b) BTOS comparison; (c) COVID-19 related items by mode of delivery; (d) standard GP attendance items by mode of delivery; and (e) bulk billing incentives for non-referred services.