The cost of medical care in Australia is a concern for many families. The Medicare system in Australia aims to make health care more affordable and universally accessible by providing a rebate to cover, or partially cover, the cost of a range of health services. The rebate amount for a service is pre-determined by Medicare and dependent on several factors relating to the consumer, service and service provider.
The term bulk-billing refers to a payment option under Medicare whereby there is no out of pocket expense to the consumer. Instead of billing the consumer, the provider only bills Medicare and accepts the Medicare benefit as full payment for the service. When you see a bulk-billing psychologist, you will not be required to pay anything for the service. For people with financial constraints, seeing a psychologist who bulk-bills can make ongoing appointments more viable as a long term option.
To be eligible for bulk billing, you first need to be registered with Medicare. The option to be bulk-billed for psychology appointments is then at the discretion of your psychologist and should be discussed prior to commencing therapy. Some psychologists have a policy whereby they will bulk-bill concession card holders (e.g. students, pensioners) and other low-income or vulnerable groups. If you are experiencing financial hardship, it is worth discussing payment options with your service provider.
To avoid any nasty surprises, make sure you are aware of the fee schedule and any additional charges (e.g. after-hours rates) prior to engaging with a psychologist. At Epsychiatry, we ensure our patients are provided with this information as a matter of priority, so they can make an informed decision about whether they wish to proceed with the service. Prior to each appointment, we send patients an email detailing the service fees. Our friendly support team is always available to answer any additional questions you may have about billing.
If you are registered with Medicare, you will likely be able to access a rebate for psychology services. To claim a rebate, you will require a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) from your doctor or psychiatrist. At present, an MHCP allows you to claim up to 20 sessions with a psychologist per calendar year. To start with, your doctor will refer you for up to 6 sessions at a time. If you require ongoing care, they can refer you for further sessions. Medicare rebates for a single session are $126.50 with a clinical psychologist and $86.15 with a general psychologist.
If you claim a rebate through Medicare, you can’t claim a rebate through private health insurance. However, if you choose not to access an MHCP, or you run out of MHCP funded sessions, private health insurance may provide a rebate for psychology services. If you have private health insurance, check your extras cover or contact your provider to see what you are eligible to claim.
To access a bulk-billed psychology service through EPsychiatry, you first need to confirm that your psychologist is a bulk-billing provider. If you have negotiated a bulk-billing arrangement with your psychologist, you will need the following to proceed:
- A valid Medicare card
- A valid Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) prepared by your GP or psychiatrist
- Proof of eligibility for bulk-billing, including a valid student, pension, low-income health care or other type of concession card (by request)
We will send you a confirmation email prior to your bulk-billed psychology appointment. Please read the email carefully prior to your appointment and follow the instructions to confirm and attend your appointment.
A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) is required if you wish to claim your psychology sessions through Medicare. A MHCP is not required if you wish to claim the service through private health insurance.
Any GP or psychiatrist can prepare a MHCP, but it is best to visit someone who knows you well. Your doctor will ask a series of questions to determine your level of psychological distress, presenting concerns and treatment goals. If they believe you would benefit from psychological therapy, this information will be included in the MHCP.
We suggest booking a longer appointment to obtain a MHCP, as you and your doctor will require sufficient time to cover the relevant information and formulate a tailored treatment plan. Following the appointment, your doctor will provide you with a printed copy of the MHCP and/or send the plan directly to your chosen provider.
To book an appointment with one of our experienced psychologists, please contact our friendly support team or send us a web inquiry.