Medicare's brain drain
April 12, 2008, smh
PSYCHOLOGISTS have rapidly turned their inclusion under Medicare into a goldmine, earning more than $120 million from Medicare but still tending to charge their patients higher co-payments than doctors.
But the expansion of Medicare cover for mental health services in November 2006 has largely failed to provide the services to those most in need: patients in country areas and low-income people, according to figures published yesterday.
In the first 13 months of the scheme, general psychologists undertook nearly 1 million long consultation services of 50-plus minutes, attracting a rebate of $76.65. On average they charged patients an extra co-payment of $33.40.
Clinical psychologists were also busy and charging co-payments that were on average $27 more than a Medicare rebate of $112.45.