Key concepts

Medicare-subsidised mental health-related services

Key concept Description
Medicare-subsidised general practitioner (GP) services Medicare-subsidised general practitioner (GP) services are services provided by medical practitioners who are vocationally registered under Section 3F of the Health Insurance Act 1973, or are Fellows of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners or trainees for vocational registration.
Medicare-subsidised other allied mental health services Medicare-subsidised other allied mental health services are services provided by other allied mental health professionals such as occupational therapists, social workers and mental health nurses. These services cover focussed psychological strategies—allied mental health (occupational therapist and social worker items) and enhanced primary care—allied health (mental health worker item). Mental health workers include Aboriginal health workers, mental health nurses, occupational therapists and some social workers as well as psychologists. Although some psychologists are covered by this item they cannot be readily separated from the other mental health workers covered, so this item is counted under the heading of other allied mental health services. The data source section lists these item groups and MBS item numbers. For Medicare payments to be made on these items the provider (occupational therapist, social worker or other appropriate provider) must be registered with Medicare Australia as meeting the credentialing requirements for provision of the service.
Medicare‑subsidised psychiatrist services Medicare‑subsidised psychiatrist services services are services provided by a psychiatrist (or, for electroconvulsive therapy, by either a psychiatrist or another medical practitioner together with an anaesthetist) on a fee-for-service basis that are partially or fully funded under the Australian Government’s Medicare program. These services cover patient attendances (or consultations) provided in different settings as well as services such as group psychotherapy, telepsychiatry, case conferences and electroconvulsive therapy. These item groups along with the relevant MBS item numbers are listed in the data source section. Note that for items in the range 291 to 370 (MBS Group A8) and 855 to 866 (Case conference—consultant psychiatrist) only medical practitioners who are recognised as psychiatrists for the purposes of the Health Insurance Act 1973 are eligible to provide services attracting an MBS subsidy. 
Medicare-subsidised psychologist services

Medicare-subsidised psychologist services are services provided by psychologists that are rebatable by Medicare through psychological therapy services, focussed psychological strategies and enhanced primary care items. The data source section lists these item groups with the relevant MBS item numbers. For these items to be eligible for Medicare rebates, the provider must meet the following eligibility requirements and be registered with Medicare Australia.

Medicare rebates for psychological therapy services are only available for services provided by clinical psychologists who are fully registered in the relevant jurisdiction and are members of, or eligible for membership with, the Australian Psychological Society’s College of Clinical Psychologists. Clinical membership is only available for registered psychologists who have completed the standard 4 years of study in psychology and attained an accredited doctorate degree in clinical psychology or master’s degree in clinical psychology with 1 year of supervised post-masters clinical psychology experience. 

Medicare rebates for focussed psychological strategies and enhanced primary care are available for services provided by psychologists who are fully registered in the relevant jurisdiction regardless of any specialist clinical training. Registered psychologists must complete the standard 4 years of study in psychology with an additional 2 years of supervised practice, postgraduate coursework or a research degree, and meet any other jurisdiction-specific requirement for registration.

Alternative text for Medicare-subsidised mental health-related services figures

Figure MBS.1

Vertical bar graph showing the proportion of each state and territories population who received Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services, by state or territory in 2016–17. Victoria (10.7%), Queensland (10.2%) and New South Wales (9.8%) had a higher proportion of the population accessing services compared with the national total (9.8%). Of the remaining states and territories, South Australia had 9.4% of the population receiving services, followed by Tasmania (9.2%), Western Australia (8.5%), Australian Capital Territory (8.4%) then Northern Territory (4.7%). Refer to Table MBS.4. Back to figure MBS.1

Figure  MBS.2

Horizontal bar graph showing the percentage of the Australian population who received Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services during 2016–17, by key demographics. The percentage is representative of the demographic specific-population. In 2016–17 patients aged less than 15 years (5.1% of Australians in this age group) were the lowest users of services. The proportion of the population accessing services increased for people aged 15–24 years (12.6%) and 25–34 years (12.8%), peaking at 35–44 years (13.4%) and then gradually decreasing for the age groups 45–54 years (11.9%) and 55–64 years (9.6%) and finally 65 years and over (5.8%). By sex, a greater proportion of females (11.7%) accessed services compared with males (7.9%). For Indigenous Australians, a greater proportion of Indigenous Australians (10.8%) used services compared with non-Indigenous Australians (10.1%). For remoteness area, a similar proportion of people living in inner regional areas (10.4%) accessed services compared to major cities (10.2%), and the percentage of patients decreased as a function of remoteness; outer regional (8.1%), remote (4.8%) and very remote (2.8%). Refer to Table MBS.2.  Back to figure MBS.2

Figure MBS.3

Line graph showing the percentage of Australians receiving Medicare-subsidised mental health services by provider from 2007–08 to 2016–17. The percentage of Australians receiving services from psychiatrists was 1.3% in 2007–08 increasing to 1.6% in 2016–17, GPs 4.3% to 8.1%, clinical psychologists 0.8% to 2.0%, other psychologists 1.5% to 2.7%, and other allied health services 0.1% to 0.4%. Refer to Table MBS.4. Back to figure MBS.3

Figure MBS.4

Vertical bar graph showing the Medicare-subsidised mental health specific service rate (per 1,000 population), by state or territory in 2016–17. Victoria (527.6 per 1,000 population) and Queensland (482.9) had the highest rate of services per 1,000 population, greater than the national total (456.7). Of the remaining states or territories New South Wales had 439.8 of services per 1,000 population, followed by Tasmania (427.9), South Australia (427.1), Australian Capital Territory (365.3), Western Australia (356.6) then Northern Territory (141.8). Refer to Table MBS.12. Back to figure MBS.4

Figure MBS.5

Horizontal bar graph showing the rates of Medicare-subsidised mental health services per 1,000 population by demographics in 2015–16. Service use in 2016–17 was lowest among patients aged less than 15 years (215.6 per 1,000 population), increasing for people aged 15–24 years (571.0) and 25–34 years (576.0), peaking at 35–44 years (635.1) and then gradually decreasing for the age groups 45–54 years (584.0) and 55–64 years (485.7) and finally 65 years and over (254.3). By sex, females accessed a greater number of services 560.8 per 1,000 population compared with males at 350.9. For Indigenous status, non-Indigenous Australians accessed a greater number of services (472.2) compared with Indigenous Australians (371.1).  For remoteness area, the highest service rates were seen in major cities (495.3 per 1,000 population). Service use rates decreased with increasing remoteness; inner regional at 437.8, outer regional 296.6, remote at 145.2 and in very remote 80.9. Refer to Table MBS.10.  Back to figure MBS.5

Figure MBS.6

Line graph showing the service use rate per 1,000 population for Medicare-subsidised mental health services by provider from 2007–08 to 2016–17. The rate of services provided by psychiatrists increased from 92.8 per 1,000 population in 2007–08 to 98.0 per 1,000 population in 2016–17, GPs 59.9 per 1,000 population to 141.3 per 1,000 population, clinical psychologists 30.9 per 1,000 population to 88.7 per 1,000 population, other psychologists 58.5 per 1,000 population to 112.7 per 1,000 population, and other allied health professionals 4.5 per 1,000 population to 15.9 per 1,000 population. Refer to Table MBS.12. Back to figure MBS.6