General Explanatory Notes
Schedule fees and Medicare benefits
Medicare benefits are based on fees determined for each medical service. The fee is referred to in these notes as the "Schedule fee". The fee for any item listed in the MBS is that which is regarded as being reasonable on average for that service having regard to usual and reasonable variations in the time involved in performing the service on different occasions and to reasonable ranges of complexity and technical difficulty encountered.
The Schedule fee and Medicare benefit levels for the medical services contained in the MBS are located with the item descriptions. Where appropriate, the calculated benefit has been rounded to the nearest higher 5 cents. However, in no circumstances will the Medicare benefit payable exceed the fee actually charged.
There are presently three levels of Medicare benefit payable:
- 75% of the Schedule fee:
- for professional services rendered to a patient as part of an episode of hospital treatment (other than services provided to public patients). Medical practitioners must indicate on their accounts if a medical service is rendered in these circumstances by placing an asterisk '*' or the letter 'H' directly after an item number where used; or a description of the professional service and an indication the service was rendered as an episode of hospital treatment (for example, 'in hospital', 'hospital outpatient service', 'admitted' or 'in patient'). Certain services are not generally considered hospital treatments – see GN1.2;
- for professional services rendered as part of an episode of hospital-substitute treatment, and the patient who receives the treatment chooses to receive a benefit from a private health insurer. Medical practitioners must indicate on their accounts if a medical service is rendered in these circumstances by placing the words 'hospital-substitute treatment' directly after an item number where used; or a description of the professional service, preceded by the words 'hospital-substitute treatment'. Certain services are not generally considered hospital treatments – see GN1.2.
- 100% of the Schedule fee for non-referred attendances by general practitioners to non-admitted patients and services provided by a practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner on behalf of a general practitioner – see GN1.2 for exceptions.
- 85% of the Schedule fee, or the Schedule fee less $84.70 (indexed annually in November), whichever is the greater, for all other professional services.
Public hospital services are to be provided free of charge to eligible persons who choose to be treated as public patients in accordance with the 2020-2025 Addendum to the National Health Reform Agreement.
Where a Medicare item with multiple components is provided, and some components are provided in the hospital and the remainder outside of the hospital (e.g. aftercare), the 75% benefit level applies. With regard to obstetric items, benefits would be attracted at the 75% level where the confinement takes place in hospital.
Pathology tests performed after discharge from hospital on bodily specimens taken during hospitalisation also attract the 75% level of benefits if not a type of item specified in GN1.2 as not generally being a hospital treatment.
It should be noted that private health insurers can cover the "patient gap" (that is, the difference between the Medicare rebate and the Schedule fee) for services attracting benefits at the 75% level. Patient's may insure with private health insurers for the gap between the 75% Medicare benefits and the Schedule fee or for amounts in excess of the Schedule fee where the doctor has an arrangement with their health insurer.
- Assist - Addition/Deletion of (Assist.)
- Amend - Amended Description
- Anaes - Anaesthetic Values Amended
- Emsn - EMSN Change
- Fee - Fee Amended
- Renum - Item Number Change (renumbered)
- New - New Item
- NewMin - New Item (previous Ministerial Determination)
- Qfe - QFE Change