Going to the Doctor
Managing your own health care needn’t be overwhelming. It’s completely understandable that as you get older, you want more privacy – especially when it comes to your sexual health! Here’s some basic tips to help you take charge.
Ask yourself: What kind of doctor do I need?
There are lots of different kinds of doctors out there who specialize in different areas of health. A GP (general practitioner) is your best place to start. They can assess the situation, prescribe medication or refer you onto more specific doctors if necessary. Before making an appointment you may want to consider whether you want to continue seeing your family GP (if you have one) or find one of your own.
There are lots of doctors out there, so if you’re not sure about the one you have, seek out another. It’s important to find a doctor you like and you feel comfortable talking to.
Something to think about: Once you have found one you like, try to stick with them. That way, it’s easier to track changes or improvements in your health and your doctor can better understand your health needs. Remember, conversations between you and your doctor are confidential, that means that they will not discuss your health or anything else you have talked about with your parents or your school.
Paying for your Appointment
Many clinics do charge for appointments. The government, under the Medicare scheme will refund $24 for a standard appointment. If your doctor charges a fee on top of this, you may need to pay between $5 and $15 extra out of your own pocket. If the doctor ‘bulk-bills’, it means that he or she charges only at the Medicare rebate rate so you don’t have to pay anything.
If you don’t have an income or you’re on a health care card, most doctors will ‘bulk-bill’ you. It’s worth asking at the clinic if this can apply to you.
If the doctor does bulk-bill, then they need your Medicare number, which is usually on your family’s card. From the age of 15, you can apply for your own card. The doctor’s receptionist can tell you how to do this. If you don’t have a Medicare card, don’t worry, you can still have an appointment.
If this is the case, the doctor may ask for your date of birth and full name so they can ring the Medicare hotline and obtain your number. Your visits to the doctor will still be kept confidential.
Making an appointment
If you would prefer a new doctor, instead of your existing family doctor (if you have one), a good place to start is the Yellow Pages. On this site you’ll find a complete listing of doctors in your area. You could also visit a family planning clinic where they will be able to help you find a GP in your area.
Appointment telephone script:
1. My name is _________ and I would like to make an appointment. Are you accepting new patients?
Some clinics only accept new patients at certain times of the year and others might be completely full. If your chosen clinic isn’t accepting new patients, don’t worry, just try the next one on your list.
2. Could I please see a [female or male] GP?
Remember, it is your right to request a female or male doctor and it completely normal to make this request. If your preferred doctor isn’t available straight away and your problem isn’t urgent, you may want to wait a little while longer to get the one you want.
3. Provide your details
If this is your first appointment with this clinic, you will need to tell the receptionist your first name and surname, as well as your telephone number.
If you are having trouble making an appointment, there are bulk billing clinics which have a drop in service (this means you just walk in, and patients are seen in order of arrival). This method can take some time, so be prepared to wait.
Getting your own Medicare Card
In order to Bulk Bill your doctors appointment, you need to provide your Medicare number. If you want to be able to do this without your parents or guardian knowing, you have 2 options:
- At 15 years of age, you can get your own Medicare by filling out this form and heading to your nearest Department of Human Services Centre (you might know this as ‘Centrelink’).
- Or you can ask the receptionist to obtain your Medicare number through the confidential Medicare Hotline. To do this you will need to provide your full name and date of birth.
Things to remember
– Everything you say to your doctor is confidential
– You can request a female or male doctor
– It’s important to feel safe and comfortable with your doctor
– It is possible to see a doctor without a Medicare card
– It is really important to take charge of your health and seek professional advice
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