About half of Canberra's female population surveyed in a new report are struggling to find bulk billing services and access other affordable healthcare services in the ACT.
A shortage of general practitioners, lack of bulk billing services and increased demand in the hospital system are contributing to the barriers being faced.
The report from the Women's Centre for Health Matters asked Canberra's women for insight into their health, health needs, access to services, supports and information and barriers to maintaining good health.
It found that in addition to affordability, the second greatest barrier to accessing health care was time, followed by service availability and negative experience with health professionals.
Women's Centre for Health Matters deputy chief executive Emma Davidson said the scale of the barriers to accessing healthcare was surprising.
"We have known for some time that bulk billing rates and access to GPs in Canberra is too low to meet the needs of our population," Ms Davidson said.
"What the latest research tells us is that women's social determinants of health has a particular impact on their ability to access good primary health care. Because women have lower employment and income levels, and higher demands on their time due to caring responsibilities for other family members, it is hard to find the time or money to go to the doctor. To see so many women talk about the impact this has on their health really emphasises how important it is that we solve this long-standing problem."
The report found that for women who experienced barriers to accessing health services, 50 per cent identified affordability as a barrier, and 49 per cent identified appointment availability as a barrier.
Bulk billing visits to GPs in Canberra decreased to 56 per cent in the 2015-16, compared with 84 per cent across Australia. But the proportion of patients fully bulk billed is much lower, the report states. Meanwhile, GP numbers in the ACT were the lowest of all states and territories.
Following the release of the report, Ms Davidson said the centre would speak with health stakeholders in the ACT to improve women's access to primary care health services, and ensure the existing services are meeting their needs.
"Women are also often the main family decision makers for health issues and the main family carers, so their access to appropriate health and wellbeing services, supports and information is crucial," she said.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris said the ACT government had a strong track record of delivering health services for women.
"We are proud to have a world class women's hospital, the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, which we have committed to expanding," Ms Fitzharris said.
"The ACT is historically a leader in abortion law reform, currently leading the country in legislation protecting women and their reproductive choices.
"Last month we announced a $2.6 million upgrade to the maternity services at Calvary Public Hospital to give women in Canberra's north better access to high-quality, modern birthing facilities. And last year we completed an expansion of the Canberra Hospital emergency department, with a dedicated paediatric treatment facilities and waiting areas, improving the patient journey for our youngest patients and their families."
Ms Fitzharris said a focus area of the ACT Women's Plan was health needs of women and girls.
Respondents qualifying for the survey were women aged 16 and over and living or working in the ACT or Queanbeyan. A total of 601 valid surveys were collected. The report stated that the survey didn't aim to be representative of all ACT women's views, but rather to capture themes from a sample of ACT women.