Medicare rebates for mental health services provided by psychologists
What is a psychologist?
Psychologists study the way people feel, think, act and interact. Through a range of strategies and therapies they aim to reduce distress and to enhance and promote emotional wellbeing. Psychologists are experts in human behaviour, and have studied the brain, memory, learning and humandevelopment. Psychologists can assist people who are having difficulty controlling their emotions, thinking and behaviour,including those with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, serious and enduring mental illness, addictive behaviours and childhood behaviour disorders. All psychologists are legally required to be registered with the national registration board, the Psychology Board of Australia, in the same way medical practitioners must be registered. This means that they must be competent and follow a strict Code of Conduct. Not all counsellors or therapists are registered psychologists. Seeing someone who is registered ensures you receive high quality ethical treatment. If I have a mental health problem, how can a psychologist help me?
Psychologists specialise in providing therapies for mental health problems. These therapies are effective at treating common mental health conditions including anxiety and depression and most childhood problems.
Can I go directly to a psychologist to receive treatment through Medicare?
You must be referred by your GP, your psychiatrist or paediatrician. Your GP will need to complete a detailed mental health assessment and prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan before referring you to a psychologist. You should book a longer session with your GP to enable time for this.
What mental health problems can be treated under the Better Access initiative?
‘Mental disorder’ is a term used to describe a range of clinically diagnosable disorders that significantly impact on a person’s emotions, thoughts, social skills and decision-making.
The Better Access initiative covers people with mental disorders arising from:
Alcohol use disorder
Attention deficit disorder
Co-occurring anxiety and depression
Drug use disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder
Can I access any psychologist?
Under the scheme you can only see a registered psychologist with a Medicare Provider Number who you have been referred to by your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician.
Can I request a referral to a specific psychologist or does my doctor have to choose?
Your doctor must first assess that you require the services of a psychologist. Your doctor may allow you to request a specific psychologist or may refer you to a pychologist that he/she recommends. The psychologist in question must be registered and have a Medicare Provider Number for you to be able to claim the Medicare rebate.
If I am already seeing a psychologist, can I access Medicare benefits?
In order to receive a Medicare rebate, you must be referred to a psychologist by an appropriate medical practitioner (GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician). The doctor must first make an assessment that you need the services of a psychologist. If you are already seeing a psychologist, discuss this with your doctor.
How many sessions with a psychologist am I entitled to?
The Australian Government has recently announced several changes to the allowable number of treatment sessions a person can receive from a psychologist each year under the Better Access program and claim a Medicare rebate.
Eligible people can receive:
Up to 10 individual sessions in a calendar year. Your referring doctor will assess your progress after the first six sessions.
Up to 10 group therapy sessions in a calendar year where such services are available and seen as appropriate by your referring doctor and the psychologist.
What will it cost me?
The cost to you will vary depending on the length of the session