GOVERNMENT TO FUND 23 MORE MRI MACHINES
Posted on Wednesday, 9 June 2004
The Commonwealth Government will fund 23 new Medicare-eligible MRI (magnetic
resonance imaging) machines in under-served locations around Australia. This will bring the
total number of Medicare-eligible MRI units across Australia to 96 – a 32 per cent increase.
The new Medicare-eligible MRI machines will be funded through a reduction in the existing
average rebate per service while maintaining current total MRI spending. This means that
patients will have better access to MRI without increasing the burden on taxpayers.
At present, the average cost of Medicare-eligible MRI is $518. Even with a rebate of $415,
the average patient co-payment for Medicare-eligible MRI is $103. By contrast, a common
cost for privately funded MRI is about $250.
The Government will allocate new MRI eligibility at least in part on the basis of low patient
co-payments. The prices charged by newly licensed MRI machines will be published.
Competitive pressure should mean that average patient co-payments don’t increase despite
The Government has negotiated with the radiology profession a new scale of fees for MRI
services that reflects the time and complexity of specific procedures. The new average rebate
of $350 will replace the current single rebate on 1 August 2004.
Medicare eligibility will be allocated to three major paediatric hospitals in Queensland, South
Australia and Western Australia because these States do not have Medicare-eligible MRI at
any of their public children’s hospitals. MRI scans on children often require sedation.
Ensuring that at least one public children’s hospital in each State has access to a Medicareeligible
MRI machine should reduce the financial strain on the parents of sick children. New
Medicare-eligible MRI machines will be located at the Royal Children’s Hospital in
Brisbane, the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth and the Women’s and
Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.
The remaining 20 locations will be announced within a few weeks after consultation with the
radiology profession and clinicians. The Government’s objective is to increase the
availability of Medicare-eligible MRI in areas of high demand by privately funded patients.
Providing MRI to public hospital in-patients remains the responsibility of State Governments
under the Australian Health Care Agreement.
Media Contact: Fiona McDonald on 0418 883 056
Further details are available at www.health.gov.au/diagnosticimaging