You do not need a referral to make an appointment. However, should you wish to receive rebates for the consultation fees, you do need to be signed up with one the following schemes prior to your appointment.
Private Health Insurance
Many insurance companies provide rebates for psychological services. Please contact your provider to obtain further details.
Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative
Medicare rebates will apply to those who have been referred by their GP under this Initiative. A copy of the referral letter or the Mental Health Care Plan needs to be brought to the appointment.
A Mental Health Care Plan involves the GP assessing the patient, identifying needs, setting and agreeing management goals, identifying any action to be taken by the patient, selecting appropriate treatment options and arrangements for on going management of the patient, and documenting this on a plan. Go to www.health.gov.au for more info.
With a Mental Health Care Plan, you are able to receive rebates for 10 sessions per calendar year. Referrals are for a maximum of 6 sessions per referral, however you will be reviewed by your GP after 6 treatment sessions and you may then be eligible for a further 4 sessions.
Please note that Medicare rebates currently DO NOT apply for telephone or Skype sessions.
For more information about this option, please click here (www.health.gov.au) or by calling Medicare Australia on 132 011.
Referral from a paediatrician or psychiatrist
This entitles you to the same rebates offered through a GP’s Better Access Mental Health Care Plan explained above.
Winnie is an approved provider under the Helping Children with Autism Initiative. This funding is eligible for children up to the age of 6 who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (includes Asperger’s Syndrome). The funding of up to $12 000 (maximum of $6 000 per financial year) can be accessed until the child turns 7 years old and can be used on services provided by psychologists, occupational therapists or speech therapists. Click here www.fahcsia.gov.au/autism for more information about this initiative.
In addition to being able to access yearly services through the Mental Health Care Plan there are 2 further Medicare rebated services for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder or PDD. These services are accessible once per lifetime and include 4 assessment services and 20 treatment services. Services must be referred by either a Paediatrician or a Psychiatrist and age conditions apply. For more information on Medicare rebates please refer to www.health.gov.au/mbsonline.
Medicare Safety Net
Once you have spent a certain amount on medical expenses you have reached the Medicare safety net and Medicare will pay for 80% of your out of pocket expenses.
Group versus individual therapy
If your Better Access Mental Health Care Plan or letter of referral specifies individual therapy only, you will need to revisit your GP to have the Better Access Mental Health Care Plan or referral amended so you can claim a partial rebate for group therapy. Individuals can claim a rebate on up to 10 group sessions per calendar year. It can be helpful, during the initial visit to your referring doctor for him/her to specify both individual and group therapy in case of need.