Coronavirus (Covid-19 disease) – Access to Medicare Rebates
(Issued 13 May 2020)
The Australian Government has introduced a range of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include Medicare items to cover the provision of psychological services via telehealth and telephone for clients who previously had access to Medicare rebates. These items are also available for new clients with an appropriate referral.
The Medicare items are in place until 30 June 2022 unless they are revoked earlier, or the provisions are extended.
The Medicare items
The items cover sessions which are provided via video link (a telehealth session) or telephone.
Individuals still need to be referred by a medical practitioner in order to access the new Medicare items for COVID-19. Current Mental Health Treatment Plans and referrals meet these requirements.
Keep in mind that telehealth and telephone Medicare items have also been introduced for medical practitioners. I encourage you to talk with your medical centre regarding this, and to utilise the items as needed in order to reduce your risk of infection.
NDIS and Compensation clients
NDIS plans do provide for Telehealth sessions, however to ensure payment this must be confirmed with your case manager. I would advise individuals who are funded through the NDIS or under their compensation claim to talk with their case manager regarding this.
Clients who are concerned about ongoing access to psychological services during a period of isolation or if and where they develop COVID-19 could talk to their doctor about a potential referral under a Mental Health Treatment Plan or shared care plan.
Private Health Funds
Most private health funds are also providing payment for Telehealth sessions. You will need to confirm this with your health fund to confirm that they are making payments for Telehealth sessions.
My Provision of telehealth services
I use an Australian Telehealth video service called Coviu to provide telehealth services. Coviu was developed in Australia, meets Australian privacy standards and provides true end-to-end 256 bit AES encryption (which means that once the call is established only your computer and mine can decrypt the video stream). Despite the apparent similarity in name between Covid and Coviu, they are in no way related. Coviu stands for "Collaborative Viewing" and was established before the current virus outbreak occured.
When using Coviu, I will send you an email one or two days before the scheduled session. The email will have a link and some instructions about using Coviu. You do not need to download any software, Coviu uses either Google Chrome or Firefox web browsers to establish the video link. You simply need to have reasonable broadband bandwidth, a video camera and microphone (both of which are included in all modern laptops and tablets). Coviu works on both Microsoft Windows and Apple computers
For more information about COVID-19
For the latest advice, information and resources, go to the Australian Government Department of Health homepage at www.health.gov.au
Call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
Contact your state or territory Public Health Authority:
In the ACT, call 02 5124 9213.
Refer to www.health.gov.au for contact numbers for other states and for the NT.