Don’t let your treatment get delayed by unnecessary trips to the GP for paperwork. Hopefully your doctor is a trusted ally in your mental health journey. But life is busy enough without spending time and money doing things you don’t have to do.
Here are some things you might get told you need, but you don’t.
(We’re also going to include quotes from Medicare or other reliable sources to back up each of these tips.)
Your mental health treatment plan never expires
Mental health treatment plans (MHTPs) don’t expire. If your situation has changed a lot since your MHTP was done, you might want a new one. Or your GP might want to do a new plan with you. But as for being eligible for Medicare rebates, you only need one plan ever. If you don’t want a new plan, or a plan review, don’t get one.
“A MHTP does not expire”Department of Health, Australian Govt [https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-ba-fact-prof]
Your referral letter only expires if you’ve used the sessions
Referral letters don’t expire either. They’re valid for whatever number of sessions it says on the letter. They last until all the sessions are used, no matter how many months or years you might space out your treatment. If your GP hasn’t named a specific number of sessions on the letter, the number is 6.
You can only get a Medicare rebate for 10 sessions each calendar year. If you get a re-referral letter that would take you over 10 sessions for the year, you can use the remaining sessions next year.
“A referral is valid until the referred number of sessions have been completed”Department of Health, Australian Govt [https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-ba-fact-prof]
You can change psychologists with the same referral letter
It doesn’t matter which psychologist is named on your referral letter, or your plan. It’s ok if no psychologist is named. You can still see any psychologist you like and get your Medicare rebate. Don’t go to the doctor just to get a name changed on a letter.
“If a referral is addressed to one provider, the patient is not obliged to go to the same practitioner. They can see another practitioner in the same discipline to provide the psychological service.”Medicare Australia
“A referral is valid … regardless of whether a patient chooses to change their allied mental health provider.”Department of Health, Australian Govt [https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-ba-fact-prof]
Your GP can phone, email, or fax a new referral letter without seeing you
If you’ve used up all the sessions on your current referral but you still need support, ask your psychologist to contact your GP and request a re-referral. This can be done by fax or secure messaging. You don’t have to go to the GP in person. You might want to see your GP or your GP might want to see you, but if everyone’s happy with how things are going, save yourself a trip.
“The referral can be in the form of an email from the referring practitioner. The referral can be verbal rather than written.”Australian Psychological Society
You don’t need a mental health treatment plan review
If you want to go back to your GP for more mental health advice, and it’s been at least 3 months since your plan was done, you can get a mental health treatment plan review. But if you and your GP are happy with how things are going, you don’t need a review. You can get Medicare rebates for 10 sessions a year forever, as long as your GP keeps sending re-referral letters to your psychologist.
“You Don’t Need a Review! A Review … can be conducted at the GP’s discretion [but] is NOT essential in order for you to continue therapy”Better Access Surivival Guide, Tess Crawley