Medicare payments go electronic

Friday, 15 June 2012

From 1 July 2012 Medicare Service Centres will begin going cashless and will now pay rebates straight into bank accounts.

Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said claims would be made by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or by swiping a debit card.

“We’re removing cash from offices and moving to new electronic payment methods which pay Medicare benefits directly into bank accounts,” Mr Jongen said.

This means payments are faster to process and more secure – at no extra cost to customers.

Only around 8 per cent of payments were processed using cash in the last year, and just 4 per cent by cheques.

As the only Australian Government program still managing large volumes of cash, Medicare offices around the country are modernising to offer people new electronic payment methods.

“We’ve trialled electronic payment options in place of cash in a number of service centres,” Mr Jongen said. “The feedback was very positive, with some customers saying they wished we’d offered it sooner.”

There are now several electronic payment options available to people claiming Medicare benefits.

People can register their bank account details with Medicare and claim using EFT, where benefits will usually be deposited into their bank account the next business day.

Or, where people need immediate payment, they can swipe their debit card and payment will be instantly deposited into their bank account via credit EFTPOS.

For those people who need extra help, or don't have a bank account, Medicare staff will work with them to ensure they receive their Medicare benefit. If a customer doesn’t have a debit card or there are circumstances where the benefit can’t be paid to an account, alternative options will be offered.

“Registering bank account details with Medicare means benefits can also be claimed directly at your local doctor, with more than half of GPs nationwide able to process payments almost immediately via EFTPOS,” Mr Jongen said.

“Your local Medicare Service Centre can advise if your doctor offers this facility, or you can speak to your doctor about this service.

“People can also use Medicare online and phone services (132 011) to complete their claim without attending a service centre. Both of these are available 24 hours, seven days a week.

“For example, you can ring 132 011 at local call rates any time of the day or night to access our telephone service, where you are connected with a person to help with your claim – without the worry of visiting an office.”

For more information on options for claiming Medicare benefits, visit humanservices.gov.au/medicare.