Law student putting ‘care’ in healthcare as out-of-pocket costs rise

7 February 2020

Many Australians have found themselves in the position of requiring medical care without having any idea how much it will cost them.

Access to healthcare is considered a fundamental human right, but access to affordable healthcare in Australia is rife with challenges that often fall to the individual to navigate.

Baffled by the concept that patients should have to seek help blindly without a clear indication of fees or access to information on more affordable options, UQ Law student James Gillespie set out to increase transparency in the healthcare industry.

James established MindTheGap, a comprehensive healthcare directory, which now lists thousands of medical and dental clinics from across the country.

“To get pricing information on even a handful of practices previously required hours of research and phone calls to individual clinics,” he said.

“Through MindTheGap, people can not only get a clear idea of what it will cost to see any doctor for their basic services, but also see whether this is above or below the average cost for that service across all clinics in their local area.”

And those costs are accelerating, according to MindTheGap’s latest research.

MindTheGap has surveyed fees charged by 224 GP clinics every January since 2018.

“Out-of-pocket costs at private GP clinics have increased by almost $3 on average for a standard GP consultation since January 2018,” James said.

He found there had been a small, but continuous, decline in the number of bulk-billing clinics since 2018.

“One in three GP clinics do not bulk bill their patients and charge them an average of $76 per visit.”

Five clinics had abandoned bulk billing altogether since 2018.

James believes if bulk-billing rates continue to fall, low-income families without access to bulk billing or low out-of-pocket costs will be forced into emergency rooms, or to forego treatment entirely.

“With all States’ unnecessary emergency hospital admissions increasing to critical levels, it is more important now than ever that people be able to quickly and reliably find affordable primary care at local GP clinics instead,” he said.

“If people are being priced-out of receiving primary care, then we don't have an effective universal healthcare system at all.”

Contact: BEL Communications,, 07 3346 0700.