Psychotherapy Tips

Psychologist in adelaide that bulk bill

Are you looking for Bulk Billing Psychologists without wait times which could go on for months? Are you dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, ADD, relationship issues (+ other issues) and have been on a waitlist and it’s taking forever to see someone? We’re here to assist you by providing Telehealth therapy via online or phone without any costs to our clients. Better yet, you can see someone in the team either this week, or next! We have a team of multi-cultural psychologists who can help you deal with a whole range of issues so get in contact with us ASAP!

Psychologists who predominantly bulk bill are making as little as $12 an hour, which is why it “just isn’t an option for the majority of them”, the executive director of the Australian Association of Psychologists, Tegan Carrison, has said.

Almost half of all Australian adults will face mental ill-health at some point in their lives, but for the most vulnerable of them, accessing affordable mental healthcare has become more difficult as general practitioners and psychologists move away from bulk billing.

A GP-approved mental healthcare plan is needed to receive government-subsidised psychological sessions. But psychologists told Guardian Australia they too are cutting back on bulk billing, and one was even forced to close their practice altogether.

“The current Medicare rebate for registered psychologists is $89, and the rebate has not kept up at all with the rate of inflation,” Carrison said.

“Only 6% of private practice psychologists are able to bulk bill, yet 78% say they would bulk bill if the client rebate was raised to $150 per session.

“If psychologists, many of whom own their own small businesses, are to keep their doors open, they need to pass on the difference between the actual cost of service and the rebate amount to the consumer.”

Em Rusciano opens up on being diagnosed with ADHD in her 40s – video

But not all consumers can afford to pay. An entirely bulk-billing clinical psychologist practising in Adelaide told Guardian Australia she “desperately” wants to keep bulk billing and she often won’t charge her clients even if they don’t have a referral from their GP, because wait times to see a GP are long and her clients are desperate for help.

“It is pretty much impossible to run a clinic as a bulk-billing psychologist,” she said.

“But the vast majority of people who need mental health help where I practice are unemployed, or they have just been discharged from hospital, or just released from prison, which usually means that they can’t work and they can’t afford to pay. I’m known for bulk billing, so there is so much pressure on me. People beg me to take them in and if I don’t, they may end up back in hospital or experience other bad outcomes because they can’t get the help they need.”

She said she thought about charging a private fee to only those who do not require concession cards. “But only about five of our clients aren’t concession card holders, so it just wouldn’t be worth it.”

Psychologists spend much longer with clients than GPs, which means they book fewer appointments in a day and receive fewer rebates from the government. Like GPs, they need to pay for rent, education, administration, Covid-related expenses, registration, telehealth software and insurance.

For every 50-minute session with a client, there is additional time invested to research conditions or medications, liaise with the referrer, check referrals and care plans, write up notes and provide reports.

An Australian Association of Psychologists survey of its members found the hourly rate for a bulk-billing psychologist would be on average about $12 to $20 after accounting for additional time and expenses.

The association wants provisional psychologists – in their last stages of supervised practice before achieving full registration – to be able to provide services under Medicare. The association would also like to see incentive payments offered to psychologists working in low-income, regional and rural areas.

A psychologist working in rural Australia told Guardian Australia that despite having a fully booked, bulk-billing practice with a waiting list, he had to close his practice last year because “I could no longer make a living from it” and the clients would not be able to afford private fees.

Meanwhile, a psychologist working at Coffs Harbour on the north coast of New South Wales said for a period of time, she bulk billed all of her clients but was forced to introduce private fees because “I was earning about the same as a full-time cleaner at the hospital”. Bulk billing meant she had little in savings and superannuation, and often, she said, “my own children went without”.

“It’s not possible to primarily bulk bill and remain in private practice,” she said.

A 52-year-old woman living in Tasmania with anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder said she hasn’t seen a psychiatrist, psychologist or GP in over three years because she can’t afford it. Her weekly income of $50 per week is too high to be eligible for a low-income healthcare card and there are no GPs in her local area who bulk bill.

“So I stay at home, spend as little money as possible, and now self-manage my health issues,” she said. “It’s not ideal and certainly not where I thought I would find myself in my early 50s.”

A 59-year-old man living in South Australia said he has been unemployed for three years due to a serious back injury and mental health issues he has had since childhood. The GP in his town does not bulk bill, forcing him to travel.

“I have started to see a psychologist but have to pay a gap fee,” he said. “All this means is that I now have to go without food and medication at times due to living on jobseeker.

“So much for living in a decent country … I have not felt part of this society for many years now.”

Fees & Rebates | Accessing a Mental Health Care Plan

Fees

Therapy Fees & Rebates

Most of our Therapists at Adelaide Trauma Centre are registered with Medicare so please ask about the rebate available or check the profiles page.

Pensioner Card Holders
Some private practitioners will negotiate the size of the gap payment, depending on your income. Many bulk bill clients who are on benefits or a pension.

Medicare
You receive a rebate of approximately $75 to $85 from Medicare for each session if you have a Mental Health Care Plan.

Private Health Insurance
People with Health Benefits cover that includes Psychology can claim a rebate from a session with a psychologist. Contact your provider to see if you are eligible. It is not possible to claim both Medicare and Private Health rebates for the same session.

If you cancel your appointment the day before but still with less than 24 hours notice before the appointment time, a cancellation fee of $65.00 will be payable, and this is not covered by Medicare or Private Health Insurance.

If you simply do not turn up for your appointment or cancel later than the close of business on the day before your appointment, the full charge of $165 to $260 for the appointment will be payable.

If you simply do not turn up for your appointment or cancel later than the close of business on the day before your appointment, the full charge of $165 to $260 for the appointment will be payable.

Yes. If you cannot make your appointment, please notify us at least 24 hours in advance so that your appointment can be made available to other patients. If you simply do not turn up for your appointment or cancel later than the close of business on the day before your appointment, the full charge of $165 to $260 for the appointment will be payable. If you cancel your appointment the day before but still with less than 24 hours notice before the appointment time, a cancellation fee of $65.00 will be payable, and this is not covered by Medicare or Private Health Insurance.

Yes. You can make an appointment, but this will not be bulk-billed through Medicare and you will need to cover the costs of the session yourself. This cost may then be claimed back from your private health insurance if your policy covers psychology.

If you are not covered by Medicare, and so not eligible for free sessions, you can pay for the sessions using cash or card. Your private health insurance may provide rebates for you.

With COVID-19 the demand for our Bulk Billed sessions has skyrocketed and so we now have very long waiting lists. Please also see FAQ 14 below.

Yes. All our psychologists are registered with these authorities, and you can be referred to them by your GP. Please note that WorkCover sessions need to be paid for by the client at the end of the session, and this price is then rebated to the client by the employer. We have no ability to bill employers directly.

We accept cash or card (EFTPOS, Visa, MasterCard) for payments that are not bulk-billed through Medicare. All sessions need to be paid for at the conclusion of the session.

In some cases, we are unable to lodge Medicare Claims on your behalf, and you will be given a paid invoice by email that you can take to your nearest Medicare office for claiming.

In most cases, we can lodge your Medicare Rebate Claim for you after the session is completed. Medicare will then take 48-72 hours to deposit your rebate into the account you have registered with them. If you do not have a bank account registered with them, the refund will not be sent to you as Medicare no longer issues cheques.

No. We have daytime (starting before 5 pm) weekday appointments that qualify for Medicare bulk billing (up to 10 per calendar year) and are bulk billed to Medicare, so there is no payment required at all. Note that these appointments are very popular and so there is always a long waiting list to access them. Access to these appointments is not restricted to only those who have a Pension or Health Care Card. Your GP can prepare a Mental Health Care Plan and referral letter for you. Make sure to bring these along to your first session.

9. Do you accept ATAPS vouchers?

No. Since we have daytime weekday appointments that are bulk-billed to Medicare, there is no out of pocket cost to the patient, and so no need for ATAPS vouchers or subsidies. Simply make sure your GP refers you under the Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative and provides you with a referral letter and Mental Health Care Plan. This enables us to bulk bill your appointments to Medicare. If you are not sure, show your GP this website, or have them ring us for more details.

10. Do you do Home Visits?

Yes. By special appointment, depending on your location, one of our psychologists may make home visits if you are unable to attend our offices. These appointments are NOT Bulk Billed to Medicare, although if they are Medicare Eligible, rebates can be claimed. Please contact us to arrange a Home Visit appointment.

11. How much do private sessions cost?

A daytime private session with one of our Registered Psychologists is $165.
An After Hours private session with one of our Registered Psychologists is $215.
A daytime private session with one of our Clinical Psychologists is $210.
An After Hours private session with our Clinical Psychologists is $260.

*We work hard to keep our costs as low as possible and whilst we did need to introduce a price increase from 1 July 2022, we are still below other private practices. 

12. Can you write letters and reports?

Yes. Some of our psychologists can write a letter or report covering your situation. These may be required for university, school, employers, insurers, court or other purposes. Additional charges apply to these reports, and they are not covered by Medicare. The cost will depend on the purpose and content of the report and may range from $143 to more than $3,500.

13. Which number will you call from?

In order to protect your privacy, ALL our calls, whether from the Administrative or Clinical teams will come through as “Private Caller”. We will never risk breaking your privacy by having our number come up on your phone. This does mean that if you have a block on Private Callers, you will not be able to receive our calls. In this case, our team member will leave a message on your Voicemail service requesting that you call us back to complete the call. We apologise if this causes any inconvenience, but protecting your privacy is of utmost importance.

14. Why aren’t all your appointments Bulk Billed?

Medicare rates for Psychology items were frozen as part of the Federal Government’s Medicare Rate Freeze from 2013 until July 2019 when annual indexation was re-introduced. This has meant that the rates have fallen far behind inflation and our costs. This is also why very few other private psychology services offer Bulk Billed appointments to the general public.

The inclusion of Daytime Fee Payable and After Hours appointments for those who can afford it helps to subsidise our provision of Bulk Billed appointments. If we were to try to offer Medicare Bulk Billing for all our appointments, our service would quickly cease to exist.

For more details on the effect of this freeze, see here

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