Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on a question below to expand the answer.
Why do I need a referral?
A referral is necessary if you wish to be able to claim the Medicare rebate back from the cost of your consultation or treatment. This is to satisfy the requirements of the Department of Human Services which oversees the Medicare programme.
How long does my referral last?
A referral from a General Practitioner (GP) is valid for 12 months from the date it was first used.
A referral from another specialist is valid for 3 months from the date it was first used.
In the case of some chronic conditions your GP may choose to write you an ‘indefinite referral’. In this case the referral does not expire, however it is only valid for the specific condition for which it was written.
If your first consultation with your doctor was at the Lismore Base Hospital then your referral is from the Specialist Emergency doctor if you were admitted to the hospital via the Accident and Emergency Department. If you were already in hospital under the care of another specialist and they asked for your NCSS doctor to provide an opinion then this specialist is the referring doctor.
Do I need a referral?
A referral is necessary if you wish to be able to claim the Medicare rebate back from Medicare to partially reimburse the cost of your consultation or treatment. This is to satisfy the requirements of the Department of Human Services which oversees the Medicare programme.
In order to claim the Medicare rebate you must have a valid referral which must be presented to the reception staff prior to your consultation. A referral from a GP is valid for 12 months, while a referral from another specialist is valid for 3 months.
If I need to have an operation how long will I have to wait?
Your waiting time is dependent on several factors.
The most important factor that is considered is how urgent the need for the operation is.
If you have private health insurance the doctor will allocate a date for your operation at the time of consultation, this will take into consideration the urgency of the condition, the doctors available theatre lists at the private hospital and what is convenient for you.
If you are a Public Patient the doctor will allocate you to a Category depending on the urgency of your condition. You will then fill out a Recommendation for Admission (RFA) form and once this arrives at the hospital you are placed on the waiting list and the hospital will contact you within the required time frame to book you in for your operation. Category A requires action within one month, category B within 3 months and category C within 12 months.
Will I have to pay for my consultation?
Yes, you will have to pay for your consultation. The doctors at NCSS do not routinely bulk bill. The practice policy is to inform patients of the cost of a consultation at the time of booking an appointment. All the doctors at NCSS are independent practitioners and set their own schedule of fees, the reception staff then process the invoice on behalf of the doctor.
Do the doctors at North Coast Surgical Suite Bulk Bill?
The doctors who practice at North Coast Surgical Suite (NCSS) do not routinely Bulk Bill. Each doctor is an independent practitioner, running their own business and setting their own fees.
Patients are free to discuss their individual financial circumstances with their doctor and request to be Bulk Billed. NCSS charges the fee prescribed by each individual doctor on behalf of that doctor.
Why is there a difference between the Medicare rebate and the cost of my consultation?
The Medicare Benefits Schedule (a list of medical services and the fees the government is willing to pay for them) was established in 1985. Since then the Schedule of fees has not even increased in line with inflation. The cost of providing good medical care is rising and the government contribution is falling away. This is what has given rise to the Gap and why doctors are forced to charge more than the Schedule fee.
How long will I have to wait for my appointment?
This varies according to the urgency of the condition for which you need to see the doctor and may also be influenced by whether you have private health insurance. As waiting times are shorter at the private hospital the doctor may see a privately insured patient more quickly as it will be possible to schedule elective surgery more quickly in the private compared with the public hospital system.
All the doctors at North Coast Surgical Suite are very busy and the waiting times can vary from several weeks to months, however all of our doctors are committed to providing a timely and appropriate service. Therefore if your GP considers that you need to be seen sooner than the offered appointment time an urgent appointment can usually be allocated if we are provided with information indicating that this is necessary.
If I need to have an operation, what will it cost me?
If you require an operation and are admitted as a public patient, at a public hospital, your operation will cost you nothing. Please note that as a public patient you may not be operated on by your surgeon of choice and junior doctors will be involved in your care. You will be required to pay for all your consultations at the consulting rooms of the surgeon both before and after your surgery.
If you do not have health insurance you may still elect to be a 'self-insured' private patient at the private hospital. In this case you will be provided with a written estimate of the costs involved in order to help make your decision. The costs will vary depending on the item number(s) for the required operation.
If you have private health insurance and are admitted to hospital as a private patient you will not receive an account from your surgeon. All the surgeons at North Coast Surgical Suite participate in the No Gap Scheme and if you have sufficient cover for the item numbers applicable to your particular operation, the doctor will accept the fee paid by your health fund. You may have to pay an excess for the hospital component. This is determined by your particular health fund and your level of cover with them. The first post-operative consultation with your surgeon after your operation is included in the operation fee paid by the health fund and you will not have to pay for this visit. There may be additional costs to private patients due to anaesthetic, radiology and pathology services and it is the patient's responsibility to investigate these prior to surgery.
How does the Public Hospital Waiting List Work?
Surgery times in the public health system are allocated on the basis of degree of urgency. Each patient is assigned to a category. Category A patients are recommended to be operated on within a month, Category B within 2 months and Category C within 12 months.