On 5 August 2018, as part of their drought relief package, the Australian Government announced changes to the Medicare Better Access telehealth items, effective from Saturday 1 September 2018.
The Better Access telehealth items remain available for people living in rural and remote areas (Modified Monash Model regions 4 to 7) but as of 1 September 2018, the Government has removed all the face-to-face requirements for these items.
This means that as of 1 September 2018:
• Clients will no longer need to have one of their first four sessions conducted face-to-face, and
• The cap limiting the number of telehealth sessions in a calendar year to seven has been removed. This means eligible clients can access up to ten telehealth sessions in a calendar year.
The Australian Psychological Society have long advocated for the telehealth measure to improve access to psychological services for Australians living or working in rural and remote areas. The removal of the face-to-face requirements means that Australians living in rural and remote Australia will have enhanced access to psychological services.
Benefits of Telehealth?
If you are living in a rural or remote location, accessing high quality professional help can be really difficult. Furthermore, in small towns you may not have the privacy that you could have using Telehelath.
Telehealth means that you can access a psychologist from a big city from the comfort and safety of your own home (via a video-chat) and this will now be covered by Medicare for up to 10 sessions per year.
Another benefit is that some people find it easier to open up about their mental health issues online rather than in-person, because it can be less confronting to talk on a computer than in-person.
Please see the eligibility requirements below.
The person receiving care must:
a) be eligible for Medicare / DVA rebates (you must have a GP or Psychiatrist referral); and
b) not be admitted to hospital at the time; and
c) not a patient of an emergency department at the time; and
d) be located both:
i) within a telehealth eligible area at the time of the attendance; and
ii) located at least 15 kilometres by road from the eligible allied health provider.
Determining Your Eligibility
Note: To receive a Medicare Rebate, you MUST be in a geographical area considered by the Department of Health and Ageing to be ‘remote’ or ‘rural’ (i.e., “The person receiving care must be located in Monash Modified Model areas 4 – 7”). What this means is that you need to look up your address and confirm you are considered to be living in and remote or rural area.
In the example below, Yamba in NSW is eligible because it is in an area rated ‘4’ (All Australians living in an MMM classified as 4 and greater are eligible). To check your area’s eligibility, go to the official page (here). Next, on the right hand side of that page, enter your address AND click on the ‘MMM’ box to determine your eligibility. Then hit ‘SEARCH’. You must be from an area rated ‘4’ or greater.
Please see the example below, or contact us if you need assistance with determining your eligibility.