Two Tier Medicare Rebate System for Psychological Therapy Services

Page last updated: 09 August 2018

The Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative includes a range of Medicare rebateable services for eligible people with a diagnosed mental disorder, including psychological strategies provided by GPs, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, registered psychologists and appropriately trained social workers and occupational therapists. Allied mental health services available under this initiative include Psychological Therapy services provided by eligible clinical psychologists and Focussed Psychological Strategies provided by eligible registered psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.

The rebates available under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) broadly recognise the different levels of training and experience associated with the provision of services by general medical practitioners and specialist medical practitioners. As there are several recognised specialities within the practice of psychology, including clinical psychology, the MBS rebates for psychological therapy services were established on this principle.

As part of the Government’s Healthier Medicare initiative, the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce is undertaking a review of the entire MBS to consider how its more than 5700 items can be aligned with contemporary clinical evidence and practice and improve health outcomes for patients. The review is independent and clinician-led, with recommendations made to the Minister for Health.

The review commenced in 2015, focussing on a number of issues relating to current MBS items, including reviewing current item descriptors and addressing structural issues. To date, the Taskforce has made numerous recommendations to the Government that support the principles of an efficient, effective and clinically relevant MBS.

The review of mental health MBS items commenced in June 2018. The Mental Health Review Group has been formed and includes representatives of each profession eligible to deliver services under the Better Access initiative including both registered and clinical psychologists, as well as related professions such as mental health nurses. Further information on the MBS review including a full list of the membership of the Mental Health Review Group, is available on the Department of Health website.

Public submissions to the MBS review are welcome at any time by emailing mbsreviews@health.gov.au.