Help for perinatal patients under Medicare

There are a number of health reforms to provide help for perinatal patients under Medicare in Australia.

Non-Directive Pregnancy Support Counselling

There is a specific Medicare item (Medicare item 81000) which offers pregnancy support counselling to assist women who may have personal concerns relating to a current or recent pregnancy (within the past 12 months), whether this be a full-term or part-term (including planned termination). The pregnancy support counselling item covers up to three 30-minute sessions with a psychologist per pregnancy.  This item can be provided by eligible general practitioners and psychologists, social workers and mental health nurses on referral from a general practitioner.

For more information visit Commonwealth website (click here).

Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative

Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule Initiative, announced in November 2006, replaced the “Better Outcomes in Mental Health Care” initiative (implemented in 2002), injecting a further $538 million for better Medicare funded access to mental health care.  These initiatives provided key changes to Medicare aimed at:

  • improving community access to quality primary mental health services
  • providing better education and training for GPs and
  • providing more support to GPs from allied health professionals and psychiatrists.

These reforms have contributed to re-shaping the delivery of health care services for people with depression and related disorders, facilitating their access to treatment subsidised under Medicare.

Under the Better Access initiative, mental health care is now more accessible and affordable for people living with mental illness.  A claim can now be made for a rebate for up to 10 (16 in exceptional circumstances) individual and/or 10 group-based psychological treatment sessions within a calendar year.  This involves a GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician referring a consumer to a psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist or a specially trained GP.

For more information visit Commonwealth website (click here)

Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPs)

In addition, the referring practitioner may consider that in exceptional circumstances the patient may require an additional six individual focussed psychological strategies above those already provided (up to a maximum total of 18 individual services per patient per calendar year).

For more information visit the Commonwealth ATAPS website information (click here):