Bulk Billing Psychologist
Bulk billing for psychology appointments
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 accessible. One way is by giving 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. It depends on several things relating to the consumer, service and service provider. The term bulk-billing refers to a payment option under Medicare.
In this, there is no out of pocket expense to the consumer. Instead of billing the consumer, the provider only bills Medicare. They accept the Medicare benefit as full payment for the service. In other words, when you see a bulk-billing doctor, you do not have to pay anything for the service. For people with financial issues, seeing a doctor who bulk bills can make ongoing sessions more viable as a long term option.
Who is eligible for bulk billing?
To be eligible for bulk billing, you have to register with Medicare. The option of bulk-billing for appointments is then at the discretion of your psychologist. However, you must have that talk prior to therapy. Some have a policy whereby they will bulk-bill concession cardholders and other low-income or vulnerable groups. If you have a 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 plan and any other charges (e.g. after-hours rates) prior to engaging with a doctor. At Epsychiatry, we ensure our patients have this information as a matter of priority, so they can make an informed decision about whether they wish to proceed with the service. In addition, prior to each session, we send patients an email with the service fees. Our friendly support team is always there to answer any more questions you may have about billing.
Medicare rebates, private health insurance and bulk billing
When you are registered with Medicare, it is likely you get access to a rebate for psychology services. However, to claim a rebate, you will require a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) from your doctor. At present, an MHCP allows you to claim up to 20 sessions per calendar year. To start with, your doctor or will refer you for up to 6 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 the services. If you have private health insurance, check your extras cover or contact your provider to see what you can claim.
What do I need for a bulk billed session?
To access a bulk-billed service through EPsychiatry, you first need to confirm that your psychologist is a bulk-billing provider. If you have talked of a bulk-billing arrangement with them, 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 types of concession card (by request)
We will send you a confirmation email prior to your bulk-billed appointment. Please read the email carefully prior to your appointment and follow the instructions to confirm and attend your appointment.
Accessing a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP)
A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) is necessary if you wish to claim your sessions through Medicare. An MHCP is not necessary if you wish to claim the service through private health insurance. Any GP or psychiatrist can prepare an 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 mental distress, presenting concerns and treatment goals. If they believe you would benefit from therapy, this will be included in the MHCP.
We suggest booking a longer appointment to obtain an MHCP. This way, you and your doctor will need time to cover the relevant information and formulate a 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.