Many people, at some point in their lives, feel that they could benefit from seeing a mental health professional. Today, psychological care is among the many needs that are considered essential parts of everyone’s right to receive health care. Thankfully, accessing these services has been made easier for most people, especially on the financial side through Medicare rebates.
Some people would like to have sessions with a psychologist completely free of charge – if you would like to avail of this option, you will want to look for a bulk billed psychologist.
What is bulk billing?
Bulk billing is when healthcare services are paid for in their entirety by Medicare. It means that your psychologist or doctor is directly billing Medicare, who will cover the full cost of your consultation or session. This results in no out-of-pocket expenses on the part of the one receiving treatment. This billing is done “in bulk”, which means that in this case, your psychologist will bill Medicare only after they have completed a certain number of consultations that will be subsidised.
Not all healthcare professionals, including psychologists, will have a bulk billing option available. Before you go for a session, it would be best to call the clinic or check online to see if the professional you have in mind is a bulk billed psychologist.
How do I avail of bulk billing?
All you really need to be eligible for bulk billing is to be enrolled in Medicare. After that, it is a matter of seeing a bulk billed psychologist.
What you will also need is a Mental Health Treatment Plan from your GP, which includes a referral for psychological care. Your doctor will assess you first, after which the two of you can draft this plan together. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your GP may be willing to go through this process with you online or over the phone. You might also be given suggestions or referrals to a specific psychologist, but you will also likely be able to choose who you would like to see.
After choosing a bulk billed psychologist, you will want to bring your Mental Health Treatment Plan as well as your Medicare card to the session. You will be able to receive up to 20 sessions per year, but GPs usually prescribe a maximum of 6 sessions at a time, after which you will likely have to see them again for another evaluation.
Bulk Billing & Medicare Rebates
You will only have to pay a part of the fee for services from psychologists that offer Medicare rebates. Meanwhile, sessions with bulk billed psychologists will be completely free of charge, covered entirely by Medicare.
You might have heard the term “patient account”, which is the counterpart of bulk billing. You pay a fee for seeing your psychologist, after which you can claim Medicare benefits. Medicare will give a specific amount for their rebate – which might not always cover the fee that your psychologist charges. What you will have to pay for in these cases is called the “gap payment”: the amount that has exceeded your Medicare coverage.
Bulk billed psychologists tend to be fewer and have longer waiting times. Professionals that offer sessions subsidised by Medicare will usually be easier to find and have more availability.
More about Bulk Billed Psychologists
If you would like to learn more about bulk billing, you may access the relevant pages on the Services Australia website. Your GP may also be able to tell you more about how to avail of bulk billed mental healthcare services. If you would like to find a bulk billed psychologist online, you can try the Find A Health Service feature of the Health Direct website.
Accessible psychological care is a priority of our healthcare system and an important need for many people. If you feel that you or anyone you know would benefit from psychological care and is in need of affordable options, you may encourage them to seek a bulk billed psychologist after a consultation with their GP.
Bulk billing. Bulk billing – Medicare – Services Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/bulk-billing?context=60092#:~:text=Bulk%20billing%20means%20you%20don,full%20payment%20for%20the%20service. (416 words)
Healthdirect Australia. (n.d.). Bulk Billing for medical services. healthdirect. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/bulk-billing-for-medical-services (266 words)