The federal government has updated the classification system used to determine doctors’ eligibility for rural Bulk Billing Incentives effective from January 2020.

From January 2020, the bulk-billing incentive in outer metro areas will be reduced from $9.65 to $6.40 per patient, per visit.

Areas that were once classified as rural but are now metropolitan will no longer have access to these incentives.

Newcastle, Maitland, Kurri Kurri and Raymond Terrace will be affected by these changes and will be classified as MM1 from 1 January 2020, the same rating as the centre of Sydney- despite the region having higher unemployment rates and higher levels of disadvantage.

The Hunter General Practice Association has warned about $7.5 million dollars used to bulk bill patients in the Newcastle region each year will be denied to the community’s most vulnerable.

These changes lead to large financial losses for practices in this region that bulk bill or mixed bill patients. GPs in practices should consider the impact this will have on their practice should consider their current fee structure and whether this is suitable financially moving forward.

For further information on this please contact Waterford Medical Accountants on (02) 4940 2800 or email

The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.