When it comes to seeing a psychologist, many people wrongly assume that they simply can’t afford the fee. However, with the help of a Mental Health Treatment Plan, your sessions will become much more affordable. Today we go into detail about what this plan is and how you can get one…
The basic facts
- A mental health treatment plan (MHTP) can save you $1265 a year
- You can get one from your doctor, or any GP
- It lets you claim a Medicare rebate on sessions, up to 10 a year, with any psychologist
How to get one
Mainly, go to a doctor and ask for one. If your doctor is the kind where you make an appointment first, mention that you need a MHTP when you book. They might have to give you a longer appointment than usual so that your doctor has time to do the plan. If you’re going to a medical centre or your doctor does walk-ins, just walk in.
You don’t have to see your family doctor. It doesn’t even have to be a doctor that you’ve seen before.
What happens at the doctor’s
It will depend on the GP. Some doctors will collect a full history, give you a questionnaire, make a diagnosis, discuss your treatment goals, and talk you through the treatments they’ve planned for you. This is what they’re meant to do and it takes a bit of time, maybe 20 minutes. You will have to talk about your mental health stuff with the doctor, so be prepared.
Other doctors will quickly fill out a plan template with the minimum required information. This is bad if you’re relying on the GP for care, because they don’t understand your needs and their plan won’t be very tailored for you. It’s not so bad if you’re taking more responsibility for your own care, because now you’ve got your plan so you can get your Medicare rebates. You can do all the goals and treatment planning with the psychologist.
Almost certainly you’ll get a referral to a psychologist. If you already have one in mind, you can ask for the referral to be written to that psychologist. The doctor is allowed to give you a blank referral to “any psychologist”, but they probably won’t. Keep reading for why this doesn’t matter.
What if I don’t like the plan or the psychologist?
Your MHTP lets you get Medicare rebates for 6 sessions with any registered psychologist. If you don’t like the psychologist named on the plan, you can choose a different one. You still get your rebate, and you don’t need a new MHTP or updated referral letter.
If you don’t like one of the goals or treatments on your MHTP, discuss it with your psychologist and do something different.
If you want some help finding a psychologist who’s right for you, get started with us.
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How much is the rebate?
The rebate amount varies, depending on whether the psychologist is a “general psychologist” or a “clinical psychologist”.
- General psychologist: $86.15
- Clinical psychologist: $126.50
Psychologists set their own fees. When you’re choosing between psychologists or booking a session, make sure you ask how much it will cost and which rebate amount you’ll get.
How do I get my rebates?
You’ll need to pay the full fee for the session on the day. If your psychologist has electronic Medicare claiming you can then get your rebate on the spot. But if they don’t, you’ll just need to send your receipts to Medicare.
If your psychologist bulk-bills, you don’t have to pay anything. Hardly any psychologists bulk bill.
How many sessions do I get?
Your MHTP gives you 6 sessions. When you’ve used them you can go back to the doctor and get another 4 sessions. Then that’s it for the year.
You can still have sessions with your psychologist, but Medicare won’t give you any money back for them.
On January 1 each year you’re eligible for 6 sessions again. You don’t need a new MHTP each year.
What makes me eligible for a MHTP?
Most MHTPs are for depression or anxiety. Here’s the full list of conditions that are eligible:
- Anxiety disorder
- Adjustment disorder
- Conduct disorders
- Bereavement disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sleep problems
- Attention deficit disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Co-occurring anxiety and depression
Do I have to see a doctor to access psychology services?
No, but you can’t get a Medicare rebate without a MHTP.
(Technically you can get a Medicare rebate if you have a referral letter from a psychiatrist or paediatrician. But if you had a psychiatrist or a paediatrician you probably wouldn’t be reading this.)
Can I meet with my psychologist before getting a MHTP?
Sure, but you can’t get rebates for sessions that happened before the date your MHTP was filed with Medicare. (Your GP does the filing.)
Why does my doctor need to be involved?
People have different opinions about this.
On the one hand, your GP might be familiar with your medical and personal history which can be useful. They can help manage your medication, and prescribe things for you, which your psychologist can’t do. So if you have a good doctor they can be part of your mental health care team.
On the other hand, all the stuff the doctor does to prepare an MHTP probably gets re-done by the psychologist. You might decide to make the psychologist a more important part of your care, and just get through the MHTP formalities.