Psychologists welcome health fund telehealth support of Australians’ mental health during COVID-19 outbreak

24 March 2020

Australia’s peak body for psychologists the Australian Psychological Society (APS), has welcomed the announcement today that health funds will cover Australians’ access to teleconsultations for psychology services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chief Executive Officer Frances Mirabelli said that off the back of APS negotiation and advocacy, the majority of health funds had agreed to provide coverage for teleconsultations provided by psychologists, from Monday 30 March, subject to certain conditions.

Ms Mirabelli also commended health funds for fast tracking access to teleconsultations with psychologists while Australians’ movements are restricted by the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Individual telehealth consultations with psychologists are well supported by the evidence, and we are pleased to see health funds are taking good steps to make sure people are able to continue with their treatment during this particularly difficult time,” said Ms Mirabelli.

The majority of health funds have agreed to provide coverage for teleconsultations provided by psychologists from Monday 30 March, subject to the conditions listed below.*

Ms Mirabelli said the APS and the PHA were working together to address system issues regarding benefits payments, as quickly as possible.

With the APS, private health insurers have agreed to provide benefits for individual (one on one) psychology teleconsultations where:

  • The patient is undergoing an existing course of treatment, and has seen the psychologist providing the teleconsultation over the past six months, or
  • For new patients, the telepsychology service has been recommended by their general practitioner, and
  • The service is delivered before 30 September 2020, and
  • The service is undertaken in accordance with Australian Psychological Society guidelines.

“This is very welcome news. It is important that we are doing all we can to meet the needs of the community in these challenging and uncertain times, and access to financial support by way of insurance premium waivers is a great step.

“Australians with private health insurance, who have been severely impacted by job loss or underemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, are urged to contact their fund directly as they may be eligible to have their premium waived for an extended period. Health funds are currently putting programs in place to provide support for members,” Ms Mirabelli said.

The APS has a number of resources available to assist Australians in managing their mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, including advice for maintaining your mental health during social isolation, and tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety.

Visit www.psychology.org.au for more.

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