Hello. Nurse Nettie here.
I want to check with you - do you know what to expect when visiting a doctor or nurse?
Making an appointment and visiting a medical centre or sexual health clinic can be overwhelming. I’m here to make sure you know how to get help if you need it.
Just like anyone else, young people under 18 years of age have the right to confidential health care. Young people are able to see a doctor, nurse, or other health worker confidentially without a parent present. They’re also able to make decisions about their health if the health worker thinks they’re mature enough to fully understand their health problems and treatment options. There’s no fixed age for this, but it’s usually around the age of 14.
Confidentiality means that what you talk about with the health worker is kept private. They won’t share the information with your parents, friends, or school without asking for your permission. However, there are some exceptions. Health workers want to keep you safe. So, if they think you or someone else is at risk of significant harm, they may have to share the information with other people without your permission. For example, if you say you’re in danger or that you plan to hurt yourself or someone else, then the health care worker is required to take action to prevent that from happening.
When you make an appointment to see a doctor or nurse, ask if they bulk bill. Bulk billing is when the total cost of seeing the doctor or nurse is paid by Medicare. Many doctors will bulk bill young people. That means there’s no cost to you at all. How good’s that!
You need a Medicare card to be able to bulk bill at the doctors. If you don’t have your own Medicare card and don’t want to ask your parents for the family Medicare card, the doctor’s receptionist can call Medicare and get the card number for you. Your parents may be able to see that you have visited a doctor, but if you’re 14 and over, Medicare will not give information about your medical treatment to your parents without your consent.
You can get your own Medicare card from 15, (not just a duplicate of the family card with your name on it). Once you have your own Medicare card your parents won’t be able to see any of your Medicare records.
How do you get your own Medicare card? Just click here, complete the Medicare Copy/Transfer Application form, and take it to your nearest Medicare Service Centre.
Want to know more? Check out the We Keep It Zipped online fact sheet or ring 1800 451 624 between 9:00am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday to talk with a sexual health nurse. It’s also confidential and free if you call from a landline.
In the meantime watch the NSW Kids and Families video below to find out about making an appointment and what’s involved when visiting a GP.