Rebates for telehealth have previously only been available in very limited situations and for specific health professionals, for both Medicare and private health funds. Thankfully that has now changed.
With the impacts of Covid-19, rebates for telehealth appointments have been introduced by Medicare and most private health insurers. This is great news for patients who can now access the same entitlements to rebates that in-person appointments offer.
How much is the rebate?
The rebate amount depends on whether it is provided via Medicare or your private health insurer. Medicare provides rebates of $53 for individual consults for those who meet eligibility criteria. Rebates from private health funds will vary depending on the insurer and the level of cover.
Am I eligible for a rebate?
To access Medicare rebates patients need to be referred by a GP after developing a care plan for a chronic condition. Up to 5 appointments can be included. See your GP to discuss your specific situation and request a referral.
Eligibility for private health fund rebates will be outlined in your insurance details and may depend on what other services you have already claimed. Contact your private health fund to check if you are covered and confirm that they provide telehealth rebates.
Medicare and private health insurance rebates cannot both be claimed for the same consult.
Why were telehealth rebates not available before? Does telehealth not provide the same service as in person consults?
Research shows that telehealth consults result in positive health outcomes just as in person consults do. Telehealth services have the added benefit of being accessible from a distance and can provide more flexible appointments. There are only a small number of situations in which a telehealth consult may not be suitable.
In these times of Covid-19 and social distancing, telehealth consults offer increased safety and can be accessed at all stages of lockdown.
The fact that rebates for telehealth have not been readily provided in the past is more to do with catching up with changes in technology than the service not being valuable. Providing patients with choice and different options to meet their needs is a move in the right direction.
Will the rebates continue?
When initially introduced around March this year, both Medicare and private health funds had cut off dates in place. Since then, telehealth has been successfully used by many people. The value and effectiveness of this method of service delivery has led to telehealth being viewed as an important option to continue with into the future.
Rebate end dates have been reviewed with positive outcomes. Medicare no longer has a set end date, however it still refers to telehealth rebates as temporary and is continuing to monitor its use. Some private health funds have decided to remove end dates all together (such as BUPA and Medibank), while others have extended their cut off dates to later this year (such as HCF).
With continued use of telehealth, the hope is that rebates will be permanently provided by Medicare and all private health funds.
However, while this still remains uncertain, take up the opportunity now while telehealth rebates are still in place. I look forward to helping you with your plant-based nutrition needs via telehealth.