The Pros and Cons of the Government Funded Mental Health Plan
When you decide time has come to seek help for your mental health, the first step is usually to make an appointment to see your GP for a consultation. It is there that the GP will work with you to write a Mental Health Treatment Plan and write a referral for you. This could include seeing mental health specialists such as a psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist or a psychiatrist. The Mental Health Treatment plan is a strategy that looks at your mental health and what your goals are. It will give you treatment options and a range of support services to be able to reach these goals. They may also prescribe antidepressant medication depending on your circumstances along with psychological treatment.
One of the things the GP may offer is a government benefit which is available to help pay for part of the cost. In order to qualify for these benefits, you usually just need to have a Mental Health Treatment plan from your GP and a referral. It will qualify you for an initial 6 Medicare subsidized sessions with a psychologist, with the opportunity for a further 4 sessions. While this may initially seem tempting, there are some drawbacks which could potentially affect you later in life that you need to consider. Let’s look at the pros and cons of claiming this government benefit
Medicare will pay a rebate of $84.80 for 30-50 minute session with a clinical psychologist. The actual cost may be upwards of $180 so you there will still be an out of pocket cost
You will be eligible for a total of 10 subsidized sessions in one calendar year
Information stays on your medical file which could affect
- Life insurance coverage – you may be deemed as a risk and pay a higher premium
- A position within a field that requires a mental evaluation such as the police force or ambulance service
- Future employment opportunities or promotions
Initially you are only covered for 6 sessions. In order to get approval for the additional 4 sessions, you need to go back to your GP to re-evaluate your treatment plan. A lot of people may feel they do not need to do this and aren’t seeing out the treatment they need.
Help is still available without claiming this government benefit. While it may be tempting to save a few dollars, you could be better off in the long run, funding these sessions yourself. Seeing a psychotherapist instead of a psychologist who is more trained to deal with individual issues including things like anger management, is on average around $120. When you look at the out of pocket cost to see a psychologist – even with the rebate, you may be better off paying the extra $20 and there will be no information left on your medical file.
What is important to understand, is that you will be required under certain circumstances to disclose any mental health treatment through a psychologist you have received in the past.
Life Insurance and Mental Illness
Here is some great information from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in relation to how mental illness can affect life insurance policies and what your rights are:
When applying for a stand-alone policy, you need to disclose any mental health issues you've had. As a result, you might see a hike in your insurance premium, or you may face a mental health exclusion, which means you can’t get insurance cover on claims that relate to your mental health.
For example, we recently represented a client who experienced depression during a divorce in his 20s. He made the choice to see a psychologist and take antidepressants. When he later applied directly to an insurer for disability insurance, the company rejected his application because of his prior mental health issues.
You don't have to tell your employer about a medical problem unless it poses a risk to your workplace safety. If you have a mental health issue, you should discuss it with your doctor before deciding to inform your employer. Although most employers may be sympathetic and understanding, this isn't always the case. It’s not unusual for employees who disclose a mental health condition to face discrimination. This can include:
• being targeted for redundancy
• being overlooked for promotion
• being demeaned or ridiculed
• not receiving a pay rise.
If this happens, you may have a claim for unlawful dismissal or workplace discrimination
The good news is that most super funds provide automatic insurance cover for total and permanent disability (TPD), which will pay a lump sum benefit if you can no longer work due to injury or illness, including a psychological illness. You receive cover simply by being a member of a default super fund, called a MySuper product. This type of insurance isn't underwritten in the same way as direct insurance policies.
It is important to understand that you are not alone. Finder.com.au reports that Mental illness accounted for 23.60% of the non-fatal of burden of disease in a recent Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia, mental health and musculoskeletal conditions.
Everybody’s needs are different and there is not a one suits all plan for treatment. It is tailored towards each individual. While this is only a decision you can make, it is important to take into consideration all of the pros and cons.
If you would like to talk to someone about how we can help you without it affecting your medical record, CONTACT US
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