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How to Access a Medicare Mental Health Plan in Australia

Posted by Erin Fischer on

As mentioned in the last post a GP, Psychologist or Psychologist can diagnose you with a mental illness. Depending on how severe it is you may need medication, therapy or a combination of both.

Once you have been diagnosed with a mental illness you can then access a Mental Health Plan.

Under Medicare if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness you are entitled to 10 free/heavily discounted psychologist appointments per calendar year, this has temporarily increased to 20 appointments due to Covid (this will end in June 2022). This is what is called a Mental Health Plan which is a plan to guide your treatment and help you move forward.

Any doctor (GP or Psychiatrist) can write you a plan. It involves filling out a survey which is really ticking boxes that relate to how you are feeling regarding your mental health.

Your doctor will then write a referral to the psychologist stating that you are to be seen under the Mental Health Plan this will be initially for 6 appointments you will then need to return to your doctor to get another referral for an additional 4 appointments (and then again for the additional 10). After each appointment period your psychologist will write a letter to your doctor with an update and if you would benefit from additional sessions.

Not all psychologists will accept a Mental Health Plan so if you have a psychologist in mind, it's best to check before you get the referral. For some psychologists there may be a gap to pay this will vary between psychologists and is becoming more common. However, considering an average psychologist appointment costs more than $100 this is manageable for many people.  

The reality is that 10 appointments isn’t nearly enough to get proper treatment with many professionals calling that Medicare should cover up to 40 appointments. So, it might be an idea to space out the appointments and you pay for every second or third, alternatively you can complete the 10 and then pay out of pocket until the new calendar year. This is something you can discuss when you see the psychologist and they can help you work out what would be best for you.

Psychologists come under the extras bracket in health insurance. However, it really varies on your level of cover and the more basic levels often won’t cover psychologists or they will only cover general psychologists and not clinical psychologists. If you know that long term you will need a psychologist, it might be worth paying for a higher level of cover as it will be worth it long term. Some psychologists also offer discounts if you are on a health care or concession card.

Want to find out if a mental health plan would work for you or you’re curious to know more? 

Feel free to drop by, just say, Hey Erin in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.


 

About Erin Fischer

Am the qualified mental health professional at Barty Single Origin. Write topical pieces with a focus on mental health. Always available on chat, Just say, 'Hey Erin'. Passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and letting people know it's A-OK to be not OK. Mental health advocate, Anxiety survivor, baker, crafter, cat lover, blogger, and always down to get a coffee and chat.


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