The Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative introduced new mental health Medicare items on 1 November 2006. These items enable people with diagnosed mental disorders to access Medicare rebates for services from Psychologists. There are two categories of Medicare items that can be provided by Psychologists: one for Psychologists and the other for Clinical Psychologists. Clinical Psychology items can only be provided by fully registered Psychologists who are qualified to use the title ‘Clinical Psychologist’ as determined through area of practice endorsement in clinical psychology with the Psychology Board of Australia.
To access a Medicare rebate for Psychological Services, you must be referred by a GP, Psychiatrist or Paediatrician. If your referral comes from a GP they will also need to complete a comprehensive mental health assessment called a “Mental Healthcare Plan” prior to referring you to see a Psychologist. You can request that you see a Psychologist of your choosing at this consultation but it is up to your doctor to decide if your chosen Psychologist is appropriate for your particular concerns.
The Medicare Better Access scheme covers people that have a diagnosable mental health problem such as:
- Alcohol use disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Adjustment disorder
- Attention deficit disorder
- Bereavement disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Co-occurring anxiety and depression
- Drug use disorder
- Eating Disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Phobic disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Psychotic disorders
- Sexual disorders
- Sleep problems
Once you have been referred to a Psychologist under the Better Access Scheme you are entitled to Medicare rebates for up to 10 sessions of individual therapy with a Psychologist during a calendar year (January to December). You must have a review with your GP after your sixth session to discuss your progress within counselling.
Additionally, you may also be entitled to Medicare Rebates for up to 10 sessions of group counselling under this scheme.
Once you have reached the maximum number of sessions per calendar year you would not be eligible for any further Medicare rebates under the Better Access Scheme under the new calendar year.
The Medicare Rebate will typically cover the majority of the cost of your Psychological care, however, there is usually a gap between the amount charged by the Psychologist and the Medicare Rebate.
At BlueSky Psychology all of our Psychologists are eligible to provide Clinical Psychology or Psychology Services under the Medicare Better Access Scheme. We try hard to minimise the gap amount we charge to our clients. Please see our Fees and Appointments page for more information.