15 April 2019

RACGP campaign drives home cost message

General Practice RACGP TheHill

“I can’t afford to go to the doctor.”

This is the plaintive refrain of the RACGP’s new television ad, which urges citizens: “This election, put your health first.”

The video opens, not with an Australian, but with “Daniel” from Texas. “The moment you go to a doctor, you may as well open a window and just start pouring money out,” he tells the camera.

“The doctor?” says Sally from California, a young woman with glowing white teeth, laughing incredulously. “I can’t afford to see a doctor!”

Ryan from New York declares that it’s normal not to be able to afford to see a doctor.

Then we come to Frank from Australia, who says: “I wanna see a doctor, I need to see a doctor”, then adds after a dramatic pause, grimacing: “But it’s too expensive.”

The idea seems to be that it’s not Only in America that you might neglect your health for financial reasons.

“Unless the federal government removes the cost caused by the Medicare rebate freeze,” a voiceover warns, “the cost to see your GP will keep going up.”

“I can’t – I can’t afford to go to the doctor,” indignant 20-something Tammy says, echoed by young mother Lisa.

This is the college’s way of hammering home to the general public its headline demand that whichever party wins the May 18 election must not merely reindex rebates, but lift them – by up to 18.5% – to make up the shortfall left by more than five years in the freezer.

Two packages available for download on the college’s website include the video and posters of Frank, with the college’s logo and election slogan; a guide for identifying and contacting your local sitting MP and candidates; a form letter to send them; the college’s federal election statement; a two-page sheet of key messages and talking points; and infographics on the four key demands: modernise Medicare, address rising out-of-pocket costs, support mental health and recognise complex care.

The RACGP was disappointed by this month’s federal budget, which it said missed an opportunity to invest in primary care, and even more so by Labor’s budget reply, which concentrated its entire health investment on cancer.

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King has twice declined to be interviewed by The Medical Republic about Labor’s plans for primary care.