From the Editor's desk: Medicare

If there is one thing at which governments of all levels seem to excel, it’s turning a simple procedure into a bureaucratic nightmare.

Take the new Baylink Centre in Batemans Bay as a case in point.

A beautifully appointed building, built to the latest green standards, it is certainly a landmark for the Bay.

But step inside and it’s a different matter.

Letter-writer Dennis Walsh raised the issue last week and I had my first experience of it yesterday.

As Mr Walsh said, when Medicare was in Fenning Place the wait was rarely more than a few minutes and you walked out with your refund in cash.

Now, you wait in a line to be greeted by someone who enters your details into an ipad. 

You are then directed to sit in the waiting area, almost as far away from the claims area as is physically possible.

Eventually a claims officer walks from their desk to the waiting area and calls your name. You then follow the claims officer all the way back to her desk, where the claim is completed in a matter of moments and the refund is deposited in your bank account.

While the new system no doubt addresses any potential obesity issues among the staff forced to walk back and forward all day, it is hardly the most efficient use of their time.

To his credit, Human Services Minister Kim Carr was quick to respond to Mr Walsh’s complaints but simply asked customers for patience.

He said staff were undergoing more training and there were other options for Medicare claims.

That’s hardly the point. What once was a simple process now is not. Sure, frustrated customers can go online or post their forms away - and then watch still more local jobs disappear.

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