Under the Australian Government’s Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative, individuals can access financial assistance for psychological treatment, social workers and occupational therapists services, making mental health care more affordable.
“The Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative aims to improve outcomes for people with a clinically-diagnosed mental disorder through evidence-based treatment. Under this initiative, Medicare rebates are available to patients for selected mental health services provided by general practitioners (GPs), psychiatrists, psychologists (clinical and registered) and eligible social workers and occupational therapists.”
In any one calendar year, an eligible person can receive Medicare Rebates for up to 10 sessions with a psychologist. This can be accessed every year. Medicare rebates are available for up to ten individual and ten group allied mental health services per calendar year to patients with an assessed mental disorder who are referred by:
• A GP managing the patient under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or
• A psychiatrist or paediatrician.
To access the Medicare Rebate for allied mental health services, you need to visit your GP and ask for a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP). If the doctor assesses you as eligible, s/he will give you a referral for 6 sessions, and if needed, a following referral for 4 more sessions.
A psychiatrist can also supply you with a referral to a psychologist. In this case no MHCP is needed. Bulk Billing is when a provider bills Medicare directly for any medical or allied health service that the patient receives. Patients assign their right to a Medicare benefit to the servicing provider, allowing the benefit to be paid directly to the payee provider.
How do I get a referral or Mental Health Care Plan?
You need to visit your General Practitioner (GP), paediatrician or psychiatrist and explain your mental health concerns. Your GP will give you a document called a “Mental Health Care Plan” and a letter of referral which will entitle you to Medicare rebates. Bring these documents to your first consultation with your Medicare card. It is common for clients to continue on with psychological treatment beyond the initial 10 sessions. Some are able to use their private health fund to assist with the fees.
Private Health Insurance Rebates
Most private Health Funds offer rebates on psychological services (including counselling provided by Registered or Clinical Psychologist). Rebates vary depending on your fund and your level of cover. You’ll need to contact your Health Fund for more information. For more information – visit the following site: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/0F792912834609B4CA257BF0001B74FA/$File/patients2.pdf