Objectives: To determine the proportion of women who have pregnancy terminations as private patients in Victoria who do not intend to claim a procedure fee rebate from Medicare, to compare characteristics of women who intend to submit a Medicare claim with those who do not and to compare the findings to the results from a similar study conducted in NSW in 1992.
Design, setting and participants: This was a cross-sectional observational study over a 12-week period. Women having a pregnancy termination service in eight large Victorian private clinics were invited to complete a brief written questionnaire.
Outcome measure: The proportion of women who did not have a Medicare card or who had a Medicare card but did not intend to use it to claim from Medicare.
Results: Of the 1,329 women who responded, 13.1% either did not have a Medicare card or did not intend to use their card to claim a Medicare rebate. A further 20.7% of respondents were not sure about whether they would submit a claim. Women who intended to claim a Medicare rebate were different from women who did not according to age, language spoken at home, residency, citizenship and distance travelled to the service. These results are very similar to the findings from the 1992 NSW study.
Conclusion: Between 13.1% and 33.8% of private Victorian pregnancy terminations were estimated to not be recorded at the Health Insurance Commission. Health Insurance Commission records of Medicare rebate claims for pregnancy terminations are an incomplete and somewhat biased record of the services that are provided and are likely to have been so for some time.