Many Australians are fortunate to experience very good or excellent health and have few or no long-term health conditions. They might visit a GP once or twice a year or they may go the whole year without any visits. Overall, Australians see GPs 5.6 times per year on average. However, many other Australians need to see a GP more often than this. In 2012–13 more than one-third of Australians (35.3%) went to a GP six or more times. Those who went most often tended to be older, less wealthy, were more likely to have several long-term health conditions and often went to see several different GPs.
The report provides the most detailed picture yet about Australia's most frequent users of GP services. The Performance Authority focused on the two highest groups: people who visited a GP between 12 and 19 times (called 'frequent GP attenders'), and those who went 20 or more times ('very high attenders').
The report finds:
- One in eight Australians (12.5%) saw a GP at least 12 times in 2012–13, accounting for 41% of the $16 billion Medicare paid in out-of-hospital benefits
- About one-third of this group saw three to four different GPs in that same year – and about a further third saw five different GPs or more
- Australians visit a GP 5.6 times per year on average, but until now there has been little publicly available information about the patients who see GPs much more often than this.
In 2013–14 the patients who seen GPs the most (20 or more GP visits) tended to be older, less wealthy, have several health conditions and see a lot of different doctors. 57% aged 60 years or above, 75% aged 45 years or above.