Data source and key concepts

Medicare Benefits Schedule data

The MBS data presented relate to services provided on a fee-for-service basis for which MBS benefits were paid. The year and month is determined from the date the service was processed by Medicare, rather than the date the service was provided. Patient counts for demographic characteristics (e.g. sex, age) are derived from the last service processed in the reference period.

Services Australia collects data on the activity of all persons making claims through the Medicare Benefits Scheme and provides this information to the Department of Health (DoH) (Services Australia 2020). Information collected includes the type of service provided (MBS item number) and the benefit paid by Medicare for the service. The item numbers and benefits paid by Medicare are based on the Medicare benefits schedule book (DOH 2021). Services that are not included in the MBS are not included in the data. The table below lists all MBS items that have been defined as mental health-specific.

Data source MBS.1: Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific items
Provider type Item group MBS group & subgroup MBS item numbers
Psychiatrists Initial consultation new patient Group A8 296, 297, 299
Patient attendances—consulting room Group A8 291, 293, 300, 302, 304, 306, 308, 310, 312, 314, 316, 318, 319 
Patient attendances—consulting room- review of eating disorder treatment and management plan Group A36 90266
Patient attendances—videoconference - review of eating disorder treatment and management plan Group A36 90268
COVID-19 services – Patient attendances—telehealth Group A40 91827, 91828, 91829, 91830, 91831, 91837, 91838, 91839, 91840, 91841
Patient attendances—hospital Group A8 320, 322, 324, 326, 328 
Patient attendances—other locations Group A8 330, 332, 334, 336, 338 
Group psychotherapy Group A8 154, 155, 156, 342, 344, 346
COVID-19 services – Group psychotherapy Group A40 92455, 92456, 92457, 92495, 92496, 92497
Interview with non‑patient Group A8 157, 158, 159, 348, 350, 352
COVID-19 services- Interview with non patient Group A40 92458, 92459, 92460, 92498, 92499, 92500
Telepsychiatry Group A8 288, 353, 355, 356, 357, 358, 359, 361 
Telepsychiatry follow up – face-to-face Group A8 364, 366, 367, 369, 370
Case conferencing Group A15 855, 857, 858, 861, 864, 866 
Electroconvulsive therapy Group T1, Subgroup 13 14224
Electroconvulsive therapy Group T3 153
Referred consultation for assessment, diagnosis and development of a treatment and management plan for autism or any other pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) Group A8 289
Eating Disorders Treatment Plan Group A36 90260, 90262
COVID-19 services – Eating Disorders Treatment Plan Group A40 92162, 92166
COVID-19 services – telehealth and phone services Group A40 92172, 92178, 92434, 92435, 92436, 92437, 92474, 92475, 92476, 92477
General practitioners GP Mental Health Treatment Plan—accredited Group A20, Subgroup 1

281, 282, 2710(a), 2715, 2717

COVID-19 GP Mental Health Treatment Plan—accredited Group A40 92116, 92117, 92122, 92123, 92128, 92129, 92134, 92135
COVID-19 GP Mental Health Treatment Plan—accredited (aged care facility) Group A42 93402, 93406, 93407, 93410, 93411, 93433, 93434, 93437, 93438, 93441, 93442
GP Mental Health Treatment Plan—non-accredited Group A20, Subgroup 1 272, 276, 2700, 2701, 2702(a)
GP Mental Health Treatment—other Group A20, Subgroup 1 277, 279, 894, 896, 898, 2121, 2150, 2196, 2712, 2713, 2719(a)
COVID-19 GP Mental Health Treatment Plan – non-accredited Group A40 92112, 92113, 92114, 92115, 92118, 92119, 92120, 92121, 92124, 92125, 92126, 92127, 92130, 92131, 92132, 92133, 92170, 92171, 92173, 92176, 92177, 92179, 93421, 93422, 93423, 93451, 93452, 93453
COVID-19 GP Mental Health Treatment Plan – non-accredited (aged care facility) Group A42 93400, 93401,93403, 93404, 93405, 93408, 93409, 93431, 93432, 93435, 93436, 93439, 93440
COVID-19 GP Mental Health Treatment Plan – eating disorder services Group A36 90264, 90267, 90269, 90271, 90272, 90273, 90274, 90275, 90276, 90277, 90278, 90279, 90280, 90281, 90282
GP Eating Disorders Plan Group A36 90250, 90251, 90252, 90253, 90254, 90255, 90256, 90257, 90261, 90263, 92163, 92167
COVID-19 GP Eating Disorder Treatment and Management Plan – Telehealth Service Group A40 92146, 92147, 92148, 92149, 92150, 92151, 92152, 92153, 92154, 92155, 92156, 92157, 92158, 92159, 92160, 92161
Focussed Psychological Strategies Group A20, Subgroup 2 283, 285, 286, 287, 371, 372, 941, 942, 2721, 2723, 2725, 2727, 2729, 2731, 2733, 2735
Focussed Psychological strategies – COVID-19 services Group A40 91818, 91819, 91820, 91821, 91842, 91843, 91844, 91845, 92182, 92184, 92186, 92188, 92194, 92196, 92198, 92200, 93287, 93288, 93291, 93292, 93300, 93301, 93302, 93303, 93304, 93305, 93306, 93307, 93308, 93309, 93310, 93311
Focussed Psychological Strategies - bushfire affected people Group A39 91283, 91285, 91286, 91287, 91371, 91372, 91721, 91723, 91725, 91727, 91729, 91731
Family Group Therapy Group A6 170, 171, 172, , 996(a), 997(a), 998(a)
Family Group Therapy Group A7 221, 222, 223
Electroconvulsive therapy Group T10 20104
3 Step Mental Health Process— general practitioner(a) Group A18, Subgroup 4 2574, 2575, 2577, 2578 
3 Step Mental Health Process—other medical professional(a) Group A19, Subgroup 4 2704, 2705, 2707, 2708 
Clinical psychologists Psychological Therapy Services Group M6 80000, 80001, 80005, 80010, 80011, 80015, 80020, 80021 
Eating Disorders Psychological Treatment Group M16 82352, 82353, 82354, 82355, 82356, 82357, 82358, 82359, 93076, 93079, 93110, 93113
Focussed Psychological Strategies - bushfire affected people Group M17 91000, 91001, 91005, 91010, 91011, 91015
COVID-19 Psychological Therapy Services Group M25 93312, 93313, 93330, 93331, 93332, 93333, 93334, 93335, 93375, 93376
Psychologists including clinical psychologists  Enhanced Primary Care Group M3 10968
Focussed Psychological Strategies (Allied Mental Health) Group M7 80100, 80101, 80105, 80110, 80111, 80115, 80120, 80121, 91169, 91170, 91183, 91184
Focussed Psychological Strategies - bushfire affected people Group M17 91100, 91101, 91105, 91110, 91111, 91115
COVID-19 Additional focussed psychological strategies Group M26 93316, 93319, 93350, 93351, 93352, 93353, 93354, 93355
Initial focussed psychological strategies Group M28 93381, 93382
COVID-19 Psychology health service—residential aged care facility Group M29 93512, 93535, 93557
Assessment and treatment of PDD Group A10 82000, 82015
COVID-19 Telehealth Services Group M18 91166, 91167, 91181, 91182, 93032, 93035, 93040, 93043
Allied health service for Indigenous Australians who have had a health check Group M11 81355
Eating Disorders Psychological Treatment Group M16 82360, 82361, 82362, 82363, 82364, 82365, 82366, 82367, 93084, 93087, 93118, 93121
Initial services (allied health service for Indigenous Australians) Group M30 93590
Other allied health providers Enhanced Primary Care—mental health worker Group M3 10956
Focussed Psychological Strategies (Allied Mental Health)—occupational therapist Group M7 80125, 80126, 80130, 80135, 80136, 80140, 80145, 80146 
Focussed Psychological Strategies (Allied Mental Health)—social worker Group M7 80150, 80151, 80155, 80160, 80161, 80165, 80170, 80171 
Focussed Psychological Strategies - bushfire affected people (occupational therapist) Group M17 91125, 91126, 91130, 91135, 91136, 91140
Focussed Psychological Strategies - bushfire affected people (social worker) Group M17 91150, 91151, 91155, 91160, 91161, 91165
Focussed Psychological Strategies - COVID-19 affected people Group M18 91172, 91173, 91175, 91176, 91185, 91186, 91187, 91188, 93326, 93327, 93362, 93363, 93364, 93365, 93366, 93367, 93385, 93386
COVID-19 Additional focussed psychological strategies Group M26 93322, 93323, 93356, 93357, 93358, 93359, 93360, 93361
COVID-19 Initial focussed psychological strategies Group M28 93383, 93384
Initial allied health service – mental health worker Group M29 93506, 93529
Initial allied health service for Indigenous Australians – mental health worker Group M30 93551, 93584
Follow-up allied health services for Indigenous Australians—mental health worker Group M11 81325
Eating Disorders Services  Group M16 82350, 82351, 82368, 82369, 82370, 82371, 82372, 82373, 82374, 82375, 82376, 82377, 82378, 82379, 82380, 82381, 82382, 82383, 93074, 93092, 93095, 93100, 93103, 93108, 93126, 93129, 93134, 93137

(a) Item discontinued

(b) Item numbers have differing implementation and discontinuation dates. Details are available in the Medical Benefits Schedule books.

Provider type important notes:

  • General practitioners includes services provided by Medical practitioners, including General practitioners, but excluding specialists or consultant physicians.
  • Clinical psychologist includes item numbers that can only be claimed by eligible Clinical psychologists.
  • Other psychologist includes item numbers that can be claimed by any eligible psychologist, clinical and other. The proportion of activity claimed against these items by Clinical psychologists has not been estimated in the presented data. That is, the services rendered by Clinical psychologists will be present in both the Clinical psychologist and Other psychologist categories.

Psychiatrist items—pre 1996

Restructuring of Group A8 items occurred as of 1 November 1996. Item numbers 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150 and 152 were discontinued as of 31 Oct 1996. Historical psychiatrist data includes services claimed against these item numbers.

Bushfire items

Item numbers for claims by people whose mental health was affected by a bushfire during 2019–20 include services provided by:

  • GPs: 894, 896, 898, 2121, 2150, 2196, 91283, 91285, 91286, 91287, 91371, 91372, 91721, 91723, 91725, 91727, 91729, 91731;
  • Clinical psychologists: 91000, 91001, 91005, 91010, 91011, 91015;
  • Other psychologists: 91100, 91101, 91105, 91110, 91111, 91115; and
  • Other allied health: 91125, 91126, 91130, 91135, 91136, 91140, 91150, 91151, 91155, 91160, 91161, 91165.

BEACH Survey

The BEACH survey was conducted by the Family Medicine Research Centre at the University of Sydney from 1998 to 2016 and supported financially by government and private industry.

BEACH was the only continuous, randomised study of GP activity in the world and the only national program that provided direct linkage of all management actions to the problem. It provided information about GP encounters based on data collected from a sample of GPs. BEACH was unique as it showed a relationship of reason for patient visit and GP management, where it was considered an important source for research into mental health services.

The number of estimated GP encounters deemed to be mental health related from the BEACH survey were greater than the number of Medicare subsidised mental health specific services as not all mental health-related GP encounters were billed using MBS item numbers. The BEACH survey found the proportion of estimated GP mental health-related activity billed as Medicare subsidised mental health specific GP services increased from around 10.6% in 2007–08 to around 18.1% in 2015–16. However, the cessation of the BEACH survey in 2016 prevents ongoing comparison between the BEACH survey data and the MBS data (Britt et al. 2016).

The AIHW is pursuing the identification of more recent alternative data sources to accurately present information on mental health care provided by GPs.

Additional information on the BEACH survey can be obtained from (General practice activity in Australia 2015–16). Details on the data that were collected in the final 18th year of BEACH survey can be found in the archived reports and data section.


Key concepts - Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific 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 Fellows of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and meet the requirements for the relevant Quality Assurance and Continuing Medical Education program or trainees for vocational registration (DOH 2021: 18). GP mental health services include services provided by medical practitioners, including general practitioners, but excluding psychiatrists (DOH 2019: 107–166, 190, 218, 276–278, 456, 782 1219–1223).
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 (DOH 2019: 1225–1231, 1294,–1299 1314–1315).
Medicare‑subsidised psychiatrist services Medicare-subsidised psychiatrist 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 (DOH 2019: 69–72, 117–119, 227–237, 260–261,323, 456).
Medicare-subsidised psychologist services

Medicare-subsidised psychologist services are services provided by psychologists that are rebateable 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 (DOH 2019: 77–78, 1219–1222, 1288–1291).

Psychologist (other)

Clinical psychologist includes psychological therapy services provided only by clinical psychologists. Psychologist (other) includes services provided by both clinical psychologists and other psychologists (DOH 2019: 77–78, 1286–1287, 1225–1231, 1239–1244, 1291–1294, 1305–1308, 1337).