How does private health insurance work for mental health issues?

The way in which we talk about mental health in Australia has changed dramatically over the last 5 to 10 years. Not only are we more aware of the symptoms and treatments for issues such as depression, anxiety and bipolar, we are more open to discussing our emotional well-being.

It’s a significant shift in how we think about our overall health. Rather than just focusing on our body’s physical aspects we have made our psychological health equally as important.

It may come as a surprise to many that 50% of us will experience a mental health problem at some stage in our lives. Fortunately, the help is now there when people need it.

Private health insurance for mental health – are you covered?

As treatments for mental health have become more specialised, the demand for services across the health system are also increasing.

Many people taking out health insurance for the first time or looking to switch will want to know how they’re covered for things such as psychology, counselling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation or in-hospital psychiatric care.

It’s possible you’ve already spoken with your GP about your current mental health issues and have an understanding of what the next steps are in your treatment. Either way, here’s some important information to help you make an informed decision.

Psychiatric Services

If you are treated by a psychiatrist in a community health centre or a public hospital, this service is covered by Medicare. However, if you see a psychiatrist in a private practice, Medicare will refund only part of their fee. Your private health insurance may cover the gap, but always look at the level of cover you have, especially if it involves a stay in a private hospital.

Generally there is a 2 month waiting period once you take out private health cover before you can claim for psychiatric treatments.

Psychological Services

Many people are eligible for Medicare rebates for 10 sessions each calendar year when treated by a psychologist. Your GP or psychiatrist must refer you. Again, depending on the level of cover you have with private health, you may be covered for additional sessions outside those in your Mental Health Treatment Plan.

For a more detailed understanding of how you can access psychiatric or psychological services, please download this government fact sheet.

Maintaining our mental wellbeing

Much of the recent focus is also on maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle to keep our mind happy. The popularity of certain diets and superfoods is part of this current trend, along with a greater emphasis on the benefits of exercise like yoga, crossfit, group training and meditation.

This has also led to a rise in people using extras only cover to access services such as a physio, chiro, and remedial massage, which may also be important to your mental health.

Deciding on the right policy for you

Although many online services make life easier, chatting with a real person about the level of cover you need for your mental wellbeing can be more beneficial. We have a team of dedicated service staff who will answer all your questions.

Call us on 1300 73 96 92, and we’ll help you find the best health cover for you from our panel of health funds.