When your doctor refers you for blood tests or x-rays, chances are he or she will do so by handing you a convenient pre-printed form listing the locations of clinics points where these services are available, and with a telephone number for you to call to make an appointment.
Chances are that the referral form that you receive will have been supplied to your GP by a private pathology or radiology company keen for your business.
What your GP may not mention is that:
- the service that you require is usually offered by a number of competing providers apart from the company suggested on your referral form;
- you can generally use your referral form at any provider – even if it is not named on the form;
- all providers receive substantial subsidies from Medicare;
- some bulk bill; others do not.
There can be significant differences in the fees charged by different providers after your Medicare rebate.
In some cases, you can save hundreds of dollars simply by Googling and shopping around before making an appointment.