Patients in the dark
Some bulk-billing clinics seem to want an each-way bet. They are happy to bulk bill everyone who comes through the door regardless of their financial status, but now many are starting to charge an annual "administration fee" in order to continue to bulk bill all of their patients.
When I rang my GP clinic recently to make an appointment I was advised they had introduced an annual administration fee, but were at a loss to explain exactly what this would cover, apart from the fact they could then continue to bulk bill me. This would certainly mean a large cash injection for the practice.
An aspect of bulk-billing clinics which I think is very concerning is the complete absence of documentation relating to a consultation. One is waved off and told there is no need to do anything. This means that there is no invoice or document of any kind stating the details of a visit, including the date and the medicare fee charged.
As a service has been provided and a fee charged (even though to Medicare) I have no opportunity to witness and sign a document, and I have no evidence of what I am being billed for. I believe it should be mandatory to provide these details which should be signed by the patient.
Kate Lewis, Wodonga
It was reported that 14,000 tonnes of fireworks were used in Sydney on New Year's Eve.
I read Mary McMillan's article in The Border Mail (December 31) describing all the chemicals that are used to produce the different colours of fireworks, which release toxic pollution into the air, with approval of all authorities. But if you are caught burning off waste you can be prosecuted by the council.
John Spinelli, Lavington
Time for change
Yet again hundreds of Australian families are homeless due to the ravages of another catastrophic season of bushfires.
The Prime Minister has foreshadowed a review into land management practices which is welcome and overdue. I urge him to also include in the review changing the centuries old building mode of bricks and timber-framed dwellings to investigate and embrace earth covered/underground housing in order to reduce the centuries of trauma to people who've lost their homes due to fire (and flood).
Other countries have seen the benefit that such construction offers and unless we change our old building habits we will simply repeat such loss and tragedy in a few years time when the next firestorm will no doubt hit.
George Krooglik, Albury
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