Better Access: Reductions in Medicare sessions in 2023
by Naomi Bernauer | February 7, 2023
As of January 2023, The Better Access Program implemented by the Australian Federal Government has reverted the subsidised mental health sessions from 20 back to 10, as it was pre-COVID.
The decision was made following an independent review of the program by the University of Melbourne which Health Minister Mark Butler said had “aggravated existing waiting lists”.
Butler’s decision has left Australians with reduced access to bulk-billed mental health care in a time of global, personal and economic stress following three years of pandemic-related turbulence.
How does this affect Australians wanting mental health care?
Research has found that for 50% of patients, between 13-18 sessions are required to see an improvement. This number may increase in cases with co-occurring mental health conditions or long-term conditions.
With the median gap fee at $90, this has meant that almost 70 per cent of people receiving psychology treatments are paying out-of-pocket.
Reducing the number of subsidised sessions could mean that many Australians may not be able to afford to access the treatment required for long-term recovery due to financial restraints.
What services are available outside of the Better Access Program?
At Stride, we are committed to supporting the community and finding ways to provide care to those who may have difficulty accessing the support they need from the current clinical mental health care system. As a charity organisation, our funding is largely from grants and donations which enable us to provide a variety of mental health services to the community.
In addition to our services, there are several organisations that provide support and education for people with mental illness and their families and carers throughout Australia.
A service for young people aged 12-25 years offering free online and telephone support and counselling. Call 1800 650 890, 9am – 1am AEST / 7 days a week, chat online or email.