Coronavirus (Covid-19 disease) – Access to Medicare Rebates
(Issued 6 April 2020)
The Australian Government has introduced a range of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include new 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 new Medicare items are in place until 30 Sept 2020 unless they are revoked earlier, or the provisions are extended.
The new Medicare items
The new 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 new 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
My preferred video conferencing software is Zoom.us. Zoom is considered to be a highly secure system which uses 256 bit AES encryption (the same as banking in Australia). It is highly regarded and used by a large number of Fortune 500 companies for video conferencing.
Meeting security is maximised by using a meeting password for each video session as it prevents someone from entering a meeting without both parties knowing the meeting ID as well as the password for that meeting. I also utilise a virtual waiting room to ensure that I can control who enters the session and thus ensure that only you are invited into the therapy meeting room.
When using Zoom, I will send you an email the day before the scheduled session. The email will have a link and some instructions about using Zoom.
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 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours.
Refer to www.health.gov.au for contact numbers for other states and for NT.