The Medicare shopfront in Westfield Penrith will cease trading on Saturday mornings as of this weekend, in line with falling demand for extra weekend opening hours.
Department of Human Services General Manager, Hank Jongen said Penrith is among the last remaining sites still opening outside normal business hours.
“Medicare Saturday trading is currently offered at 93 of more than 380 shopfronts,” Mr Jongen said.
“We started winding back Saturday opening hours at Medicare in April last year because of a big drop off in demand. Overall average walk-ins have reduced by almost 60 per cent over the last two years.”
Last Saturday was the last time the Medicare shopfront in Westfield will open on the weekend. Mr Jongen said new Medicare claim options were behind declining Saturday numbers.
“People now have lots of different claiming options which allow them to do their Medicare business without having to queue up at their local office,” Mr Jongen said.
“A growing number of GPs now offer electronic claiming meaning your rebate gets transferred straight into your bank account from your doctor’s office, which is the easiest option for people working during the week.
“Alternatively there’s a suite of Medicare self-service options that allow you to claim over the phone, online or by downloading the Express Plus Medicare app.”
Mr Jongen said the removal of cash from Medicare shopfronts in 2012 had also contributed to a slowdown in weekend foot traffic.
“Reduced demand for face-to-face Medicare services means opening on Saturday no longer makes sense,” Mr Jongen said.
“This is the natural next step following the removal of extended Thursday and Friday evening Medicare trading hours in 2012.
“Staff numbers will not be affected by this change and I can assure the local community that they’ll continue to receive excellent service at their local shopfront Monday to Friday.”