By Christoper Carter, Ceo Of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network
Over the past few months, you might have heard of something called “MyMedicare”. And if you haven’t, don’t worry, because you’ll likely hear a lot about it as we roll into 2024.
So, what is it, and do you need to get involved with it?
MyMedicare – and, no, there isn’t a space between the two words – is a nationwide Australian government project aimed at encouraging deeper relationships between people and their doctors.
Technically, it’s known as a “voluntary patient registration model”. It encourages people to link up with single GP (or general practice) to ensure that both parties have a deep and detailed understanding of each other.
This will lead to better care, because the chosen doctor will have a good understanding of the patient’s situation, medical history and challenges.
Under the new model, too, GPs are able to provide extra bulk-billed services, such as longer telehealth consultations, to registered patients, pushing out-of-pocket costs lower. More and more bulk-billed extra services will become available as MyMedicare develops, with these planned to roll out during the next couple of years.
All up, MyMedicare is a very good idea, and something experts have been suggesting for a long time. It’s important, though, to understand what it isn’t, as much as what it is.
The first thing to remember is that registration isn’t compulsory. It is entirely up to you. And if you choose not to register with a particular doctor or practice you will still be able to go there for treatment and support. That will never change.
And if you do register, you will still be able to see other GPs and other clinics if you need to. You will never be turned away because you are registered with a different practice.
Registered or not, your medical data remains private. And, registered or not, conversations between you and any GP will remain confidential.
You can sign up to MyMedicare if you have a Medicare card or a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veteran Card. There are three ways to get the ball rolling.
You can do it yourself using your Medicare online account or the Medicare app on your phone. The GP or practice you nominate will then finish it off. Or you can do it in reverse and ask your doctor to start the process the next time you visit. You’ll get a message to finalise it using your Medicare account.
Finally, your general practice will have a stock of paper forms and you can do the whole thing the old-fashioned way.
Patients have been able to register for MyMedicare since October this year and general practices have been able to sign up for a few months now. It’s worth noting, though, that not all practices have done this yet, so if you go to register you might end up just putting your name down – and someone will be in touch later.
That’s fine. MyMedicare is going to end up making a big improvement to our health system – but it’s a gradual process. There’s no hurry. And that’s a good thing.