From January 2023, you'll be able to claim up to 10 sessions per calendar year through Medicare
What change has been made in January 2023 in regard to claiming psychology sessions?
As of January 1st 2023, Medicare has removed the additional Covid10+ referral item numbers. This brings the total number of psychology sessions claimable through Medicare back to 10 per calendar year (instead of 20).
The Better Access program allows for claims for up to 10 sessions per year either as reduced fee sessions (an avg $131 return) or bulk-billed psychology sessions depending on the service provider policy.
How many sessions could I claim through Medicare before January 2023?
For background, the Better Access initiative gives Medicare rebates to help people access mental health professionals and care, regardless of where they live.
In response to the COVID19 Pandemic, the Australian government increase the number of medicare-subsidised sessions to 20. This increase was extended again in December 2022 but has unfortunately been reduced once again to 10 on January 1st 2023.
What does this change mean for you?
We know referrals and mental health treatment plans can be confusing so we want to ensure you understand all there is to know about accessing reduced-fee psychology sessions. Let's break this down:
You will still be able to claim up to 10 psychology sessions each year through Medicare to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for these sessions. After you have completed these 10 sessions, you can continue to claim psychology rebates with your private health insurance (ie. not having these sessions claimed with Medicare).
If you have had another Mental Health Plan review with your GP, once the new year commences your 10 sessions will reset.
If you had your Mental Health Plan renewed/initiated in 2022 is it still eligible in 2023?
Yes, the good news is that if you have an active referral with eligible psychology sessions to claim these sessions will count toward your 10 sessions per year allocation in 2023. You do not need a new referral.
What happens after I've claimed the 10 psychology sessions via medicare?
Once you have claimed your 10 sessions per year you may continue accessing psychology sessions by paying privately. You may still initiate a new referral with your GP, however, those sessions will not be eligible to claim until the start of the next calendar year when your 10-session quota resets.
Is it possible to be referred for more sessions than I can claim in a year?
Yes, it is possible for you to be referred for more sessions than you can claim in a year if you have only used some of the sessions on a referral from the previous calendar year. If you do not complete all sessions on a prior referral and claim them in the next year, they will count towards that year's total. This means that if you have 4 sessions remaining to claim from a 6-session referral in 2023 and your GP then refers you for an additional 10 sessions in 2023, some of these sessions will only be claimable in 2024. A simple way to remember this is that you can only claim 10 sessions per year, but you can still receive referrals for sessions that you can claim in the next year.
Why are they removing the COVID10+ sessions?
While many psychologists, companies and groups in the psychology & mental health field campaigned for these additional sessions to become a permanent fixture, the government ultimately did not extend the covid-10 item code arguing they were not helping combat the waitlist issues in Australia. The covid-10 sessions were a temporary extension due to the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.
Want to learn more about medicare and access to benefits?
If you're still a little confused about Medicare rebates and how to access more affordable psychology sessions you might be interested in reading our free resources:
- How to access cheaper psychology sessions with a Mental Health Plan
- Step-by-step guide to accessing Medicare rebates for psychology sessions
- What is a Mental Health Plan and how to get one?
- How to access bulk billing psychologists with My Mirror?