Bulk billed psychologist: The process to book an appointment
Bulk billed psychologist accessibility is a key component of mental health and overall wellbeing in our communities. This is why being able to seek and access mental health services is crucial (Department of Health, 2022). Prolonged psychological issues, distressing experiences, natural calamities, bereavements, interpersonal conflicts, and even daily life stressors can significantly affect our emotions, thoughts, and feelings. With the understanding and support from our friends and family, we may have the opportunity to not feel isolated during these period.
Unfortunately, sometimes the right people might not be available when you need them. When no one is there to support, moving forward almost feels impossible. That’s where the support of a professional, such as a psychologist can help drastically.
In Australia, this might involve engaging a psychologist who could either be:
- a bulk-billing psychologist
- a psychologist who charges a gap fee
- a full-fee paying psychologist.
In reality, the cost of therapy and counselling can be a hurdle for many people. Fortunately, the Australian government provides a rebate through Medicare Australia to individuals who require psychological treatment, making mental healthcare services more accessible (Medicare, 2022).
Medicare Australia works in a way that if you want to see a psychologist, you have be reviewed by a doctor first. If you choose to pay the full, non-Medicare rebated fees, then seeing a GP is not necessary.
To get you the help you need, you will need to visit your local GP to obtain a valid referral letter and mental health care plan. This allows you to receive 10 Medicare Australia rebated sessions within the current calendar year. During your doctor’s visit, you will be assessed to determine if you need a referral for a psychologist for mental health issues you may be facing.
In this article, we will discuss the process involved in setting up an appointment with a bulk-billed psychologist using funding from the Medicare Australia psychology rebate.
Bulk billed psychologist – What are bulk billed vs. non bulk billed psychology sessions?
A bulk-billed psychologist is a psychologist regulated by the Austrlalian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) who agrees to provide services to patients under Medicare’s bulk-billing system (Department of Health, 2022). This means that patients will not have to pay out-of-pocket fees for their appointments as the psychologist will bill Medicare directly for the services provided.
Step 1: Speak with your General Practitioner (GP)
The first step in accessing mental health services under Medicare’s psychology rebate is to speak with your GP. The discussion with your GP could involve an assessment of your mental health and subsequent referral to a psychologist (Department of Health, 2022).
To expand further as to what might happen at your GP appointment:
- Your GP may undertake a mental health assessment, which could involve asking you some questions in an open-ended, semi-structured, or structured way.
- Your GP could work together with you to developing a mental health treatment plan.
- Your GP will decide to make a referral to a psychiatrist if your condition requires further consideration by a medical practitioner with specialist training or other mental health professional that could attend to your current and ongoing mental health needs.
- Your GP may also decide to recommend a prescription for your particular mental health condition.
There may be questions posed by your GP during your assessment that may be of a personal nature. Rest assured that these questions are primarily to understand the circumstances around your mental health which may include; your medical or mental health history, medications you have been on, what kinds of social supports you have and if there is anything about your current situation you are concerned about.
It is your rights to ask your doctor questions. Trust between yourself and your GP is especially important, particularly with a new GP. This help you determine if this is a healthcare professional you can work with.
They will also help you to develop a mental health care plan
Step 2: Develop a Mental Health Care Plan
A mental health care plan is a document that outlines your mental health treatment goals and the services you require to achieve them (Department of Health, 2022). It is developed in collaboration with your GP and can include a referral to a psychologist. Your GP will forward a valid mental health care plan and referral letter directly to the psychologist. Always request for a copy for your safe keeping.
Step 3: Find a Bulk Billed Psychologist
Once you have your mental health care plan, you can start looking for a bulk-billed psychologist on a platform such as Chat Corner Psychologists. We work with a network of psychologists who can provide affordable mental health services. It may be very challenging to find a bulk billing psychologist using online directories such as the Australian Psychological Society’s website as most of member psychologists are may base their pricing on the society’s recommended fees. At the moment, the society’s recommended fees are $280 per 50 minute consultation, which is more than 2.5 time the Medicare rebate (Australian Psychological Society., 2023 ).
Step 4: Book Your Appointment with a Bulk Billed Psychologist
After finding a bulk-billed psychologist, you can book your appointment. When booking your appointment, let the psychologist know that you will be using the Medicare psychology rebate and provide them with a copy of your mental health care plan. The psychologist will then submit the claim to Medicare for payment (Medicare, 2022).
Step 5: Attend Your Bulk Billed Psychologist Appointment
Your psychologist is likely to send you the necessary paperwork by email of which you can complete through a secure platforms. There are practices which may require you to complete your forms on physical paper. On the day of your appointment, come for your appointment a few minutes earlier to settle any nerves and if necessary, to complete any necessary paperwork. During the appointment, the psychologist will assess your mental health concerns and may work with you to develop a plan for your therapy. You are be eligible for up to 10 sessions per calendar year under the Medicare psychology rebate (Medicare, 2023).
In conclusion, accessing mental health care can be difficult and expensive, but the Australian government’s Medicare psychology rebate makes it more accessible. If you have any questions about the the process outlined in this article, contact us through the contact form below and we will reach out to you sh
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Australian Psychological Society. (2023). How much does seeing a psychologist cost? https://psychology.org.au/psychology/about-psychology/what-it-costs
Department of Health. (2022). Mental health care and Medicare https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/mental-health/mental-health-care-plans