Medicare rebates - what are they and why do they matter?

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What is Medicare?

Medicare is the Commonwealth-funded health insurance scheme that provides subsidised health care services to the Australian population. This system was created to let Australians access medical services at a low cost or for free. 

You are eligible for Medicare if:

Can I get my own Medicare card?

As a young person, you may not have your own Medicare card yet. That's okay - it's completely fine to stay on your parent's card until you decide to get your own card. 

Getting your own Medicare card is an important step toward being able to go to medical appointments on your own. If you are on someone else's Medicare card, they may know about your medical appointments, and you might not always be comfortable with this. You can get your own Medicare card from the age of 15. Click here to learn more about this process. 

What is a Medicare rebate and why is it related to my mental health?

Medicare rebates are payments that you get back when you use certain medical services. You pay for the full-service upfront and then Medicare pays you back some money (like a refund). The rebate refers to the amount of money that Medicare pays you back.

For mental health, Medicare provides a rebate of ~$84 for registered psychologists and ~$124 for clinical psychologists. So if you see a clinical psychologist that charges $250 for a session, you pay this amount when you see them. But you will then get $124 back from Medicare, so you're really only paying $126 for that session. The reason these rebates exist is to make medical services more affordable. Unfortunately, Medicare rebates are not available for therapists and counsellors in Australia, so you can only claim money back if you are seeing a registered or clinical psychologist.  

At the moment (due to COVID-19), you can claim up to 20 sessions with a mental health professional in a calendar year. If you use all of these sessions you can still see a psychologist, you just won’t be able to claim the money back for the session from Medicare and will have to pay full price! 

How can I claim a Medicare rebate?

Most of the time your psychologist will make the rebate claim for you. So you set up the payment in the first session, and your psychologist will process the rebate so that the money goes into your account. 

If this isn't the case, you can claim your rebate yourself online on myGov. Make sure you ask your psychologist what they prefer and always ask for an invoice after your session! After submitting your claim online, the Medicare rebate will be paid into your bank account that is linked to your Medicare card. You can check your bank account details on myGov. Check out this link for more details on how to set up Medicare online.

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