By Rhiannon Riches
Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) financial year optometry bulk-billing figures show a slight increase in the 2016 December quarter continuing into the 2017 March quarter.
The 2017 June quarter data are not yet available.
Financial year bulk-billing, percentage of services
Data analysis by Optometry Australia’s Standards and Research Adviser Dr Patricia Kiely indicates that optometric services are rising.
There were 8.9 million optometric services in 2016-2017, compared to 8.4 million in 2015-2016 and 8.2 million in 2014-2015.
MBS benefits paid are also rising. There were $4 million in benefits paid in 2016-2017, compared to $3.8 million in 2015-2016 and $3.9 million in 2014-2015.
The newest items to be added to the optometry MBS for telehealth and foreign body removal have shown a steady increase in utilisation.
‘There were 680 telehealth items in 2016-2017 compared to 510 in 2015-0216, keeping in mind that there were two months in 2015-2016 when the items were not yet available,’ Dr Kiely said. ‘If we treat this as services per month, there were 56.7 per month in 2016-2017 compared to 51 per month for 10 months in 2015-2016.’
Foreign body removal was more frequent.
‘There were 12,145 foreign body items in 2016-2017 compared to 8,222 in 2015-2016, again keeping in mind that there were two months in 2015-2016 when the item was not yet available. If we treat this as services per month, there were 1,012 per month in 2016-2017 compared to 822 per month for 10 months in 2015-2016,’ Dr Kiely said.