Economist-turned-federal MP Andrew Leigh may have come up with a simple way of increasing competition between general practices in his northern Canberra electorate of Fraser.
Dr Leigh's office contacted 35 GP clinics in the electorate and asked for details of their addresses, fees, bulk-billing policies, opening hours and whether they were accepting new patients.
The details are published on The Canberra Times website and Dr Leigh's website.
Six of the practices bulk-billed all Medicare card holders, 14 bulk-billed some patients and 15 did not bulk-bill at all.
Twenty nine of the practices were accepting new patients and 17 had extended opening hours during the week or offered weekend clinics.
Dr Leigh said he was frequently contacted by constituents who were unsure which doctors were taking new patients and which bulk-billed.
Publishing the survey results would help people find the doctor who was right for them.
''Standard economics works under the assumption of full information. People don't normally have full information and so I tend to think people make better decisions if they have full information,'' Dr Leigh said. ''Partly that's about the efficiency of the market and party that's just an equity thing.''
Dr Leigh is a strong supporter of the MyHospitals and MySchools websites which provide performance results from educational and health institutions.
He said it was unclear whether giving potential patients easier access to the fees doctors' charged would generate greater price competition. ''It's possible,'' he said.
''That's certainly the experience internationally with school accountability, for example you see see schools benchmarking particularly against nearby schools,'' he said.
''And one of the nice things about the way this works with schools is you don't need people to move. You just need people to threaten to move and you see impacts.''
Dr Leigh said the government did not regulate doctors' fees so the best thing he could do to help price-sensitive constituents was to give them information about which practices bulk-billed.
''One model that I think is particularly interesting is the membership-based model of the West Belconnen Health Co-Op,'' he said.
The cooperative charged an annual membership fee but bulk-billed all members for the year.
''For Canberrans who live in those areas, this offers the chance to be bulk-billed even if you are not in a high-need category.''
Other practices that bulk-billed all Medicare cardholders included the Ginninderra Medical and Dental Centre in Belconnen and the Tristar Medical Group in Bruce.
The data gathered by Dr Leigh's office confirmed the trend towards more general practices accepting new patients.
A survey by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher's office earlier this year found that about 70 per cent of general practices were accepting new clients.
This was a big turnaround from December 2010, when The Canberra Times surveyed 50 practices and found that just over half had open books.