Independent Review of Health Providers’ Access to Medicare Card Numbers


On 10 July 2017, the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and the then Minister for Human Services, the Hon Alan Tudge MP, announced an Independent Review of Health Providers’ Access to Medicare Card Numbers. The Review was commissioned following media reports that Medicare card numbers were available for sale on the ‘dark web’.

The Review Panel, led by Professor Peter Shergold AC, and supported by the Presidents of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian Medical Association delivered a Discussion Paper released for public consultation on 18 August 2017. A Final Report containing 14 recommendations was presented to the Minister for Health and the then Minister for Human Services on 5 October 2017.

The Review Panel considered how to balance appropriate access to Medicare card numbers for health professionals to confirm patient eligibility for health services with the security of patients’ Medicare information. The Final Report provided recommendations that aimed to improve the security of access to Medicare card numbers, including through the Department of Human Services’ Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) system and its telephone channels, while also continuing to support access to health services without unnecessarily increasing the administrative workload faced by health professionals.

On 16 February 2018, the Australian Government provided a formal response to the final report that agreed without qualification to 13 recommendations and agreed in-principle to the remaining recommendation pending further examination of implementation options.

The Department is committed to providing all stakeholders with progress updates on the implementation of the recommendations.

To date, the Department has implemented six of the recommendations, and by 30 December 2018, a further six will be implemented

The remaining two recommendations will be implemented during 2019 and 2020.

The discussion paper, final report and Government response can be found on the Department of Human Services’ website.