Medicare Funding for Telehealth Sessions with Psychologists Extended

by Brisbane City Psychologists

The Australian Government has announced this month that Medicare-subsidised Telehealth services provided by psychologists will be extended until the end of 2021. The government rolled out Telehealth subsidies in March 2020, including psychology sessions with a registered psychologist or clinical psychologist, as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, for Australians to continue to access GP, mental health and allied health services during lockdowns.

Psychologists have welcomed the extension of Telehealth psychology sessions under Medicare until the end of 2021. Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, most psychologists at Brisbane City Psychologists adopted Telehealth, which has been vital for clients to access mental health support when face-to-face sessions haven’t been possible or a barrier to care due to lockdown, isolation or health concerns. Knowing that Telehealth psychology sessions can be accessed by clients under Medicare until the end of 2021 provides certainty for psychologists and their clients alike.

About Telehealth Sessions With a Psychologist

Throughout the pandemic, Telehealth psychology has been a lifeline for psychology clients to access vital mental health support, particularly when face-to-face sessions aren’t possible or there is a barrier to care. It is recommended that you speak with your psychologist about Telehealth sessions before you start, so you can make an informed decision about whether Telehealth is right for you.

Potentially anyone with access to a phone or computer and internet can receive a Telehealth service. Online therapy however is not appropriate for people who need a high level of care, particularly those who have acute mental health issues and/or are medically compromised. If you are unsure whether Telehealth therapy is appropriate for you, please discuss your needs with your psychologist. Factors to consider include your capacity to use technology, your age, any barriers to engaging in Telehealth such as visual or hearing impairment, language or communication barriers, and some mental health symptoms and safety concerns, among others.

Some clients may choose not to engage in Telehealth sessions as they do not have a private space at home or work where they can have an hour-long session without being interrupted or overheard by others. You can find more information about Telehealth and what to expect in this article: Getting Ready for Telehealth Psychology Sessions.

Your suitability for Telehealth may change over time and should be regularly reviewed with your psychologist. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us and we will help you with your queries or ask your psychologist.

Rebates for Telehealth Sessions with a Psychologist

Medicare rebates are presently available for clients to access Telehealth until the end of 2021. Most private health funds and Government-affiliated third parties are also funding Telehealth during the COVID pandemic. Anyone who has an eligible Mental Health Care Plan or referral from their Doctor can claim Medicare Rebate for Telehealth sessions with their psychologist.

You may be able to claim private health insurance rebates for Telehealth if you are not claiming Medicare rebates (you cannot claim both for the same sessions). As the policies for this differ between funds, please check your eligibility for this directly with your private health fund provider and they would be able to tell you if you are eligible and the exact amount of rebates.

Video Explanation about Telehealth

Below you can see an example from Coviu, an Australian Telehealth platform used by many psychologists for Telehealth video sessions with their clients.