The Medicare Safety Net provides patients with additional financial assistance for out-of-pocket costs for out-of-hospital Medicare funded services. The difference between the doctor's fee and the Medicare rebate is the patient’s out-of-pocket cost.
Once a patient’s out-of-pocket expenses for medical services reaches the safety net threshold of $421.70 (as at 1 January 2013), all future Medicare services are paid at 100% of the Medicare Benefits Scheduled fee (not at the 85% Medicare rebate) for the remainder of the calendar year for all Medicare cardholders. For example:
|Before Safety Net Threshold||Doctor’s Fee||MBS Rebate(at 85% Scheduled Fee)||Out-of-Pocket Cost|
|Initial specialist consult||$126.00||$72.75||$53.25|
|After Safety Net Threshold||Doctor’s Fee||MBS Rebate(at 100% Scheduled Fee)||Out-of-Pocket Cost|
|Initial specialist consult||$126.00||$85.55||$40.45|
The threshold is indexed annually from 1 January and operates on a calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.