Mental Healthcare Plan

10 Free Psychology Sessions Medicare: How to Access and What You Need to Know

10 free psychology sessions are available through the Medicare Australia psychology rebate if you are struggling with mental health concerns (Department of Health, 2022). It’s important to note that while the Medicare Australia psychology rebate is colloquially referred to as 10 free psychology sessions, the Medicare Australia psychology rebate is in fact subsidised by the Australian Government. This is an affordable option if you are seeking a professional which can be expensive and inaccessible for many Australians (Australian Psychological Society, 2023). Being able to access the ten free psychology sessions per calendar year can make psychological services more accessible (Australian Association of Psychologists, 2021). In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to access these free sessions, eligibility criteria, and limitations, as well as alternative options for accessing affordable psychological services.

If you are simply looking to access the 10 Free Psychology Sessions Medicare, feel free to skip ahead to the “Get Help Now From Our Registered Psychologists” section.

Eligibility for 10 Free Psychology Sessions Medicare

The first step in accessing the ten free psychology sessions through Medicare is to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria. To qualify for the Medicare Australia psychology rebate, visit your GP for an evaluation of your mental health symptoms (Department of Health, 2022). Your GP will take into consideration if your mental health symptoms are affecting your social, educational, vocational and occupational functioning.

Mental health conditions that are eligible for the rebates include those listed in the DSM-5 (APA, 2013). This may also include chronic or terminal medical condition affecting your mental health, you will also qualify for the Medicare Australia psychology rebate if you are not hospitalised.

Accessing the 10 Free Psychology Sessions Medicare

To access the ten free psychology sessions through Medicare, you will need to follow a few simple steps.

Obtain a valid mental health care plan and referral letter from your GP or psychiatrist (Department of Health, 2022). Your doctor will assess your mental health condition and draft a referral letter and mental health care plan. The referral letter and mental health care plan outlines your medical and psychosocial history and provides treatment recommendations. The referral letter and mental health care plan will be sent to registered psychologist.

Once you have your mental health care plan and referral, you can book your sessions with a registered psychologist. You can contact Chat Corner Psychologists for a list of registered psychologists or search for a registered psychologist on Google. Your first session will your psychologist will get to know you. This will involve an initial assessment which may include a structured or semi-structured interview. Over subsequent sessions, your psychologist will treat your mental health condition and address any underlying issues that you might be experiencing.

When you attend your psychology sessions, depending on the arrangement with your psychology clinic, your will either not have to pay anything or you will need to pay the full fee upfront and then be reimbursed by Medicare Australia. The rebate covers up to ten psychology sessions per calendar year, and you can receive up to $93.35 per session (Department of Health, 2023). This amount increases every July by a small increment.

Limitations and Considerations to the 10 Free Psychology Sessions Medicare

While the ten free psychology sessions through Medicare can be a valuable resource for many people, there are limitations and considerations to keep in mind. The first consideration is that if you want to obtain a valid referral letter and mental health care you will have to visit your GP or psychiatrist to access the rebates . Without these, you will need to pay the full fee for your psychology sessions.

Secondly, the rebates only cover up to ten psychology sessions per calendar year (Department of Health, 2022). Any more than ten sessions and you will need to pay the full amount for further sessions. The rebates also do not cover the cost of any psychological assessments or tests that your psychologist may recommend.

Finally, whether you incur out-of-pocket expenses even if you are eligible for the Medicare Australia rebates primarily depends on your psychologist. If your psychologist charges more than the Medicare Benefit Schedule fee, you will need to pay the difference. Additionally, some psychologists may charge a gap fee, which is an additional fee that you need to pay out of pocket.

Alternative Options for Accessing Affordable Psychological Services

While the ten free psychology sessions through Medicare can be a helpful resource for many people, they may not be suitable or accessible for everyone. If you are not eligible for the rebates or prefer an alternative option, there are still many resources available to help you access affordable psychological services.

Online platforms such as Chat Corner Psychologists offer online counselling and therapy services that are affordable and accessible. We often receive referrals from community mental health services as their community waitlists can be quite significant. Community hubs often work with psychology clinic providers like Chat Corner Psychologists that can deliver low-cost or psychological services to those who need them, especially for individuals experiencing financial difficulties. While it is may be an option to utilise, employee assistance programs provided by many employers as EAP programs offer counseling services to their employees for free or at a reduced rate, it is important to understand that many EAP programs are obliged contractually to disclose your confidential issues to your employer which may inadvertently affect your employment status.  Please check who has ownership of your confidential information with your EAP program before commencing treatment or therapy. Finally, private health insurance may offer rebates or cover for psychological services, so it’s worth checking your policy to see what is included (Private Healthcare Australia, 2023).

In conclusion, there are various ways to access affordable psychological services in Australia, including the ten free psychology sessions through Medicare. If you have questions about eligibility criteria, rebates, limitations and considerations, you can contact Chat Corner Psychologists in the contact form below.

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References:

Department of Health. (2022). Better Access initiative. https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/better-access-initiative#:~:text=Extra%20support%20is%20available%20until,Read%20about%20these%20extra%20sessions.

Australian Psychological Society. (2023). How much does seeing a psychologist cost? https://psychology.org.au/psychology/about-psychology/what-it-costs

Department of Health. (2010, November) Evaluation of the Better Acess Initiative Component D: Summary of consultation with stakeholders. Retrieved from: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-ba-eval-dsum-toc~mental-ba-eval-dsum-8~mental-ba-eval-dsum-8-1

Australian Association of Psychologists. (2021). Submission to the Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. https://www.aapi.org.au/common/Uploaded%20files/SCMHCP%20AAPi%20Submission%202021.pdf

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

Department of Health. (2023). Medicare Benefits Schedule – Item 91170. Retrieved November 1, 2023, from http://www9.health.gov.au/mbs/fullDisplay.cfm?type=item&q=91170&qt=item

Private Healthcare Australia. (2023). Private Healthcare Australia. https://www.privatehealthcareaustralia.org.au/