Laura Park, Practice Manager
Medicare is a fantastic thing and I’m so grateful to live in a country where there is assistance for healthcare costs, however, when it comes to accessing mental health treatment, it can be pretty confusing to begin with - Are there bulk billing services? Do I need a referral? What about the sessions my doctor talked about? This is a whole new world for most people!
So let me fill you in.
My doctor said I’d get free sessions...
Some clients have come to us saying that their doctor advised that their referral will allow them to access free sessions, but that is not the case for most private practices. The bulk billed rate is less than half the fee recommended by the Australian Psychology Society to see a psychologist in private practice. At Hopscotch and Harmony, we receive no government subsidies so we just couldn’t keep our doors open if we bulk billed.
I just can’t afford any out of pocket costs ...
I hear you - everyone’s financial circumstances are different and having to choose between utility bills and therapy is a real situation for many people. There are some services where bulk billed sessions are available - Headspace is one we often refer to for clients who are unable to afford any out of pocket expenses, where the client is between the ages of 12 and 25 years. Schools can also be a place to access these services so it is worth checking with your school to see what is available if finances are a barrier to accessing treatment. There are other low-to-no cost services that can be found via a Google search - “low-to-no cost psychology services, Victoria, Australia”.
So what will Medicare give me?
Hopscotch and Harmony clients can access rebates through Medicare if their doctor or paediatrician has completed a Mental Health Treatment Plan for them and they have a referral letter to see a psychologist. This referral letter should state how many sessions the doctor wants you to attend. When seeing a psychologist with general registration, this entitles the client to up to twenty rebated sessions per calendar year (recently increased from 10 sessions!). The client pays for the appointment and then the rebate (around $90) can be claimed after the session is complete. This can easily be done online through the MyGov app.
What if I need more sessions?
Here at Hopscotch and Harmony, we know that ongoing need for sessions is variable and the number of sessions our clinicians recommend to you will be based on your presenting needs and treatment plan.
Research shows that clients are more successful in reaching their therapy goals and make lasting changes after attending at least 18 sessions with their therapist. But we recognise that every situation is different. You may need more, you may need less.
If you require more sessions after exhausting your 20 Medicare rebated sessions for the year, you may have Private Health Insurance cover that you could use, or you may pay the full fee for a few sessions until January rolls around and you can access another 20 Medicare rebatable sessions.
We would love nothing more than if there were fully subsidised sessions for all who need them, when they need them, but unfortunately that is not the world we’re living in.
At Hopscotch and Harmony we pride ourselves in providing a quality service at below industry standard pricing (the Australian Psychological Society recommend a minimum hourly rate of $253) and in doing everything we can to ensure that our clients receive maximum value for the investment they make in their mental health.