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Forums / Treatments, health professionals and therapies / How do you all afford psychology/psychiatry sessions?

Topic: How do you all afford psychology/psychiatry sessions?

  1. MisterM
    MisterM avatar
    475 posts
    1 October 2015
    I know there are 10 sessions covered under Medicare where you only pay a smaller fee but every time I have been the 10 sessions run out so fast. I am unemployed, even recently working casual I wasn't earning much. How do some of you people afford to go weekly/fortnightly. When I was working full time I was going every week/fortnight and spent over $3,000 in a year on seeing my psychologist. It's just too damn expensive, how can sessions cost $200 approx per 50 mins, what justifies such a high fee?
    I don't get it.
    5 people found this helpful
  2. Arayofsunshine
    Arayofsunshine avatar
    6 posts
    2 October 2015 in reply to MisterM
    I want to know too... so will follow this thread!  :)
    1 person found this helpful
  3. Arayofsunshine
    Arayofsunshine avatar
    6 posts
    2 October 2015 in reply to MisterM

    Also how does the 10 sessions  work... my Dr mentioned it...?? 

    Thanks in advance, 

    Di 

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Shaz1
    Shaz1 avatar
    29 posts
    9 October 2015 in reply to Arayofsunshine

    Hi, 

    My dr does a BOMH form for me. I do a K10 test and maybe it depends on answers/high risk I'm not sure. I haven't had any problems getting 6 sessions free with my physcologist (whom I see weekly or f/n) been seeing her for two years. 

    1 person found this helpful
  5. White Rose
    Community Champion
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    White Rose avatar
    6205 posts
    9 October 2015 in reply to Shaz1

    Hello Everyone

    Free or very low cost counselling is available from several organisations.

    For people up to age 25:
    Kids Helpline, both phone and face to face.
    ReachOut.com helps young people to navigate the mental health system.
    http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/ Access to online programs and trusted information on depression, stress or anxiety from Australia’s leading mental health organisations.
    www.youthbeyondblue.com is the BB website for young people.

    For older people, try:
    Lifeline. phone and face to face counselling.
    The Salvation Army offers counselling to all ages.
    Anglicare offers counselling to all ages.
    Relationships Australia offer counselling but I am unsure if they take young people.
    The Black Dog Institute has a huge amount of information and I think has online programs.
    Mind Matters Click on the tab on the home page.
    Beyond Blue helpline 24/7

    Additionally there may be groups in your local area that offer low cost or no cost counselling. I would expect your GP to have details of any such organisations.

    Some psychologists will bulk bill so you do not need a MHP, just a referral. You will need to ask individual practitioners unless, again, your GP know of these rare birds.

    I hope that helps

    Mary

    8 people found this helpful
  6. Spiltbean
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Spiltbean avatar
    8 posts
    8 March 2016

    Great post mister m!

     I feel your frustration. I had to sell my home initially when things got real bad with my BPD, and move back home. In my acute stages I was needing to see a psych 3x a week at $180 session, for about 6 months. Ive been paying about 200 a week since 2008,  having seen countless therapists, to just to stay alive. It's not working, I feel so ripped off, and what's more,  have completely lost drive to continue working with nothing to show for my efforts, and still feeling fragmented. 

    There needs to be more accountability in this industry. I'd even go so far as to say a national enquiry into the level of professional negligence. If you have a complex personality disorder you fall through the crack and just suffer needlessly.

     

     

     

     

    7 people found this helpful
  7. soulful42
    blueVoices member
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    soulful42 avatar
    12 posts
    9 March 2016 in reply to Spiltbean

    I agree, great post. Been wondering that as well.

    Splitbean, I agree to the degree that I've been seeing a psychologist for maybe 4-5yrs (maybe even longer)  and with different issues that pop up - I just don't seem to be getting better/improving and if anything, after further life events and the progression of time - I'm feeling worse.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. coco123
    coco123 avatar
    10 posts
    22 March 2016
    I'm not so sure how it works really in Australia. Been here for only four years. I used free counselling sessions for students at Uni. Back then, I thought I was fine, just another normal ups and downs for Uni students. I surveyed the price for private counselling services. Yes, they were very pricey. However, I know in a neighbouring country... those who works as a public servant can have access to free physchiatric sessions and original meds. Yes, free of charge. I hope the same applies in Australia soon?
  9. 150lashes
    150lashes  avatar
    79 posts
    22 March 2016 in reply to MisterM

    Hi there

    I have ​just had a mental health care plan completed by my GP which entitles me to 10 Medicare claimable sessions.

    With the psychologist I have selected I believe I get back around 85% of her fee through Medicare. So I'll be paying about $30 per session.

    I think it's important to select the right psychologist and to try to avoid wasting time with professionals you just don't 'connect' with. Or perhaps their approach doesn't suit.

    For me, my GP knows what I'm like and recommended an older female psychologist with experience with professional women and an ability to relate.

    My first consult was really like a 'job interview' to determine if the therapeutic relationship would be beneficial and worth pursuing.

    As we only have ten sessions under Medicare. With not working and spending a lot of money seeking specialists and tests for my sick child, I really hope it's enough.

    ​I am hoping to work through my problems and devise some coping strategies so that I can manage these feelings and move forward, as well as making some decisions in a rationale and clear thought out way.

    If the sessions aren't enough I will then look to using my health fund rebate, which isn't much but at least it's Something.

    Those who have used psychology services long term, may I ask the reasons for this? Does it help? Sorry if I sound niave. I really don't know what to expect.

    Can't put a price on health!

     

     

     

     

    2 people found this helpful
  10. Legion
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Legion avatar
    47 posts
    22 March 2016 in reply to 150lashes

    I was lucky.

    The Psychiatrist I was seeing for just over 25 years always bulk billed me. I asked why once and she said "If I charged you, you would never come" How right she was, who can really afford hundreds of dollars like that?

    Sadly she retired in 2012. I was finally convinced by my GP to see a Psycologist late last year, even with the Mental Health Plan it cost me just over a $100 per visit. I gave it away after 3 visits, I couldn't see the point and having a mortgage all to myself such visits couldn't be justified.

    2 people found this helpful
  11. Spiltbean
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Spiltbean avatar
    8 posts
    22 March 2016 in reply to 150lashes

    Hi there,

    10 session rebate is great if you just need a bit of moral support, but much more intensive treatment is required for personality disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia etc....the treatment for BPD recovery starts with 12 months, to learn DBT skills. That's before you even start to delve into self, a prerequisite is that you much see your individual psychologist weekly. And when you feel suicidal, trust me, this is a minimum.

     

     

    1 person found this helpful
  12. 150lashes
    150lashes  avatar
    79 posts
    22 March 2016 in reply to Legion

    Hi Legion

    That's fantastic to gave received quality, bulk billed care by your psychiatrist for so many years! I doubt there would be many around who would do that.

    I agree it's very expensive and makes it difficult to access care.

    Which is why long term I doubt I would be able to. There really should be more support in the mental health arena particularly with the latest statistics revealed!

    I wish you all the best 

    2 people found this helpful
  13. 150lashes
    150lashes  avatar
    79 posts
    22 March 2016 in reply to Spiltbean

    Hi splitbean 

    Thanks for your reply and giving me greater insight. I appreciate it and I understand.

    ​I think there needs to be more support out there. Maybe 10 sessions really just scratches the surface. I've only had one session with my second tomorrow. I don't know when I'll feel well again or if 10 if enough.

    Time will tell I guess.

     

    1 person found this helpful
  14. SquarePeggie
    SquarePeggie avatar
    6 posts
    9 May 2016 in reply to soulful42

    I'm so glad you and Splitbean have mention this as I thought I was alone. I have been seeing a psychologist for 2 years now and if I look back there is not a single aspect of my life that is better than it was before. Some areas, like my relationship with my mum are worse. My self esteem is also worse, it seems that seeing a psychologist has just pointed out more things about myself that I don't like!

    I'm thinking about using the $175 per session on hobbies, clothes that make me feel good and holidays instead.

    2 people found this helpful
  15. Randlo
    Randlo avatar
    4 posts
    12 December 2016

    Isn't the government bent on keeping people healthy so that they'd save money from citizens using Medicare?

    Why not help mentally disabled people back on their feet to become efficient and productive tax payers? Some of the greatest thinkers in the planet had BPDs, heck, maybe one of them could be the next Mark Zuckerberg right?

    1 person found this helpful
  16. CheeseSlices
    CheeseSlices avatar
    48 posts
    12 December 2016 in reply to SquarePeggie

    Has anyone got the medicare ap? It has everything you have spent on it. My out of pocket expenses add up to over $40,000 since I got the ap.

    Some people have told me that my psychatrists were milking me for my insurance. I now think so too. I was forced to go every week for a $360 appointment (cash upfront - no cash no appointment, no appointment meant cash fee for missing the appointment... no medicare back on "missed" appointments. My car broke down before christmas one year on the way to the appointment, I rang in a panic and told her, I still missed it and was not allowed access to the doctor until I had paid it - with NONE back on medicare). If I did not continue weekly appointments I was admitted to hospital.

    I am still getting hounded by a hospital for an appointment I didnt even book a year ago! They sent me a text message saying "we have got an earlier appointment for you" I didnt see it and didnt go (nor confirmed it!) and they still hound me to pay.

    I fired my therapist at the start of this year as I was just getting worse and worse. I spent so many months in hospital last year, all they did was keep adding drugs. She didnt dispense drugs but almost every session she said "I feel you should be in hospital for safety" which then put me in the hands of a doctor who charged me AND drugged me more - then he put me on to his mates - an OT and pain specialist. So then I am supposed to fork out for 4 $360 appointments a week while earning less than $300 a week? I did this for a while, got much worse.

    Firing my doctors was the best moment of my life.

    It is so much nicer to have money for food! I dont have to save to drive 80km for appointments that had me wiped out for 3 days. I can do things on the weekend because I am not so distressed about what my therapist dragged me through. I can forget about the horrors because she doesnt bring it up to me every week!

    My lifestyle has really changed since I fired those terrible doctors. Its indescribable and amazing to be out of that system. Freeing. Not to say I dont still have issue but it is MUCH easier to deal with without doctors telling me its symptom that needs medicating and messing with my brain so I need to relearn how to cope!

    6 people found this helpful
  17. Raynor
    Raynor avatar
    101 posts
    16 June 2017 in reply to CheeseSlices
    There should be more angst about this in the media. My psychologist has just told me that treatment for my condition (a dissociative disorder) will require therapy for "a long time, possibly a very long time". I don't expect him to work for nothing, and he has office overheads beyond his own salary, so am I supposed to just accept that I can't get treatment until I have a well-paid job? What kind of country is this?
    3 people found this helpful
  18. Over1t
    Over1t avatar
    19 posts
    18 June 2017 in reply to Raynor

    I've found that the 10 sessions is quiet reasonable, keep in mind that if you have a severe and chronic condition you can get an additional 5 sessions under the chronic disease management plan.

    I've found that if I've ever been in the position that I've needed more then about 12 psychologist sessions in a year I'm in a pretty bad place and I end up getting admitted to hospital and then everything is 'free' and you see your Dr almost every day and can participate in group therapy 6 days a week.

    If your psychologist can't help you in a time bound manor maybe you need to find someone else.?

    Good luck.

    2 people found this helpful
  19. Raynor
    Raynor avatar
    101 posts
    19 June 2017 in reply to Over1t
    I guess it depends on your diagnosis. Glad it's worked for you.
  20. deecee
    deecee avatar
    3 posts
    27 June 2017 in reply to Spiltbean

    good on you for calling it out like it is. living in regional nsw I need ot do a return trip of six hours for a one hour session with a clinical psychologist and in reality getting local help is very very difficult.

    Not only expensive but the line " you need to try different drugs or therapies" ends up making me feel like some kind of experimental gineau pig. Meanwhile the specialists are handsomely paid.

    I've ended up walking away from the system - in the end its up to me to sort it out and not spend my hard earned on wealthy specialists

    4 people found this helpful
  21. deecee
    deecee avatar
    3 posts
    27 June 2017 in reply to CheeseSlices
    Yay !!! most sensible post - good for you !!!
  22. deecee
    deecee avatar
    3 posts
    27 June 2017 in reply to White Rose
    salvation army ! join the band and praise the lord. Honestly can't understand how you'd recommend homophobe christian mosogynist organisation like the salvos - these guys are not your friend they're in it for THEIR salvation not yours !
  23. Guest_9809
    Guest_9809 avatar
    1676 posts
    27 June 2017 in reply to deecee

    Good evening Deecee. I see you are a new member, so welcome to the BB Forums.

    You sound pretty fed up with the health system specifically, and life in general.

    When it comes to the subsidy available through Medicare for the MHCP, where you get 10 x medicare subsidised visits to see a psych per year - I agree with you, for any complex MH issue, it is nowhere near enough.

    My clinical psychologist told me exactly that when we discussed my treatment options for PTSD. She wants me to undergo treatment which requires intensive therapy for many more then 10 visits in a year. She said that it is vastly inadequate for complex MH issues such as mine. So SpiltBean is right about that, and he would no doubt have most people agree with him, both professionals and sufferers alike.

    Like you, I also live in a regional/country area, so my options are somewhat limited when it comes to psychological support. Although I have been very fortunate to have been referred to an extremely good clinical psych, who has vast experience in Sydney, before settling here in a country area. So, unlike you, I havent had to travel for my psych sessions.

    The mental health system is not perfect DeeCee, far from it, but it is very encouraging to see that it is much improved to what it once was. A degree of psychological support is now available to anybody who legitimately seeks, and needs, it. This never used to be the case, as it was simply out of reach financially for many. Although I readily admit it is still inadequate for many of us.

    Is there anything specific we can help you with right now, or did you just feel like having a rant? Which is quite okay, if thats what you needed to do. However, if you havent already done so, I would encourage you to tell us a bit more about yourself. Let us know how we can help or support you.

    Most people commence their foray in the Forums by starting a new thread in the Welcome and Orientation Section, where you are likely to receive replys from other forum members. I know you will find fellow members very kind, understanding and supportive. They are like you and I, people who live with MH issues.

    I hope you find whatever it is you are seeking here DeeCee. Again I welcome you and hope to hear back from you.

    Taurus

  24. The Possum
    The Possum avatar
    259 posts
    29 June 2017 in reply to Guest_9809

    Good for you for having a rant over the costs of health because I feel the same way.

    I have a mental health condition and a heart condition. Between psychiatrist, cardiologist, psychologist and GP appointments which all have an out of pocket cost, + medication which is mostly non-PBS.. We are struggling.

    I also have a little boy with a chronic condition that sees specialists and of course gave up work last year due to his condition and mine.

    I'm drowning in medical bills.

    Fortunately I qualify for the Medicare safety net which is now paying 80% of my out of pocket. It's worth looking into this if eligible.

    Someone made a comment that you must be pretty messed up and should be in hospital if you need more than ten Medicare psychology appointments in a year... That's ridiculous and I'm glad your life is so perfect and this is sufficient for you. Don't make others feel bad about needing more help.

    I have bipolar ii and struggling with some big issues. I wouldn't say I'm 'messed up' and I'm pretty sure one of the many health professionals I see would recommend I need to be in hospital if I needed to be.

    Life is just tough and talk therapy helps and I've already used my 10 sessions. Doesn't make me messed up!

    Be careful what you write on here. People come here to feel better, not worse.

    Peace x

    2 people found this helpful
  25. Quercus
    Champion Alumni
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    Quercus avatar
    3477 posts
    3 July 2017 in reply to The Possum

    Hi all,

    Affording health care. The topic every one of us seems to battle with at some point.

    DeeCee: regardless of your feelings about the Salvos sometimes it is a choice between accepting help wherever it is available or ending up in a very bad place and possibly in a grave.

    I have been fortunate. Hubby has managed to change jobs to something with more overtime to pay for my therapy. And our families have loaned us money at difficult times.

    But without his support I would have been left with no diagnosis and a bulk billing GP managing my illness. Or not seeked help at all.

    I see a psychiatrist weekly for 50 minutes. After medicare the gap is $60 a session. My bill is charged monthly. I'm not sure if that is cheap because of the 10 session thing... my GP didn't do a mental health care plan just referred me.

    Seeing the psychiatrist regularly for psychotherapy is cheaper than one off visits. He charges less if you see him regularly.

    After the psychiatrist, my specialist for another condition and all the meds we're not doing well financially. But I'm better off than many others. Money talks. I can't imagine having to wait months to see a public psychiatrist. I probably wouldn't still be here if I'd had to wait.

    1 person found this helpful
  26. White Rose
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
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    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    White Rose avatar
    6205 posts
    3 July 2017 in reply to deecee

    Hello deecee

    I'm interested in why you picked out the Salvation Army as a target when I listed several other organisations which offer low cost counselling. If that's your view then don't ask them for counselling. That's OK. There are other organisations as I have said.

    Whether or not Medicare could or should offer better rebates is beside the point when you are looking for MH providers. Medicare may well be of little use to you in your circumstances. Certainly people on low incomes find it considerably harder to find services that match their income. Public hospitals will give you free counselling, but don't expect the same psychiatrist every time.

    Also remember that Medicare does have their safety net system for low income people. It's worth checking out. Sadly it does not include psychologists fees, which I find a little unfair. The cheapest option is to see a psychiatrist, pay the gap for a short while then find yourself with safety net provisions including a greatly reduce net cost for therapy.

    Mary

    2 people found this helpful
  27. White Rose
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    White Rose avatar
    6205 posts
    3 July 2017 in reply to Quercus

    Hello Quercus

    You only need a referral to see a psychiatrist. The MH plan is only for services from a psychologist.

    $60 gap fee is quite reasonable. I paid more than that, but now I have reached the safety net provision my out of pocket expense is $17 per visit. Check with Medicare, or look up your own information on Medicare, to see how far away from the safety net you are. I know it's when you have paid a certain amount in out of pocket expenses in the calendar year but not sure what the amount is. You may find your out of pocket will drop considerably quite soon. Remember your expenses include your other specialist(s) and your GP visits.

    Mary

    2 people found this helpful
  28. Quercus
    Champion Alumni
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    Quercus avatar
    3477 posts
    3 July 2017 in reply to White Rose

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks! I couldn't quite work that one out! Now it makes sense hubby will be happy to know that too!

    I was wondering why (when I took the paid bill to centrelink) she was mentioning something about the saftey net. I told her my friend said I had to register for it and she said no it's automatic. Sounded like I am very close to the threshold which wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. This year has been a shocker for medical expenses.

    I should have asked you to explain that ages ago! 😊 thanks again you've taken a huge weight off my mind.

    I wonder why more people don't see a psychiatrist then? They are a doctor specialising in mental health after all so you get someone to talk to and they can give you prescriptions at the same time. Much easier and only one bill.

    Thanks again Mary.

  29. The Possum
    The Possum avatar
    259 posts
    3 July 2017 in reply to Quercus

    The safety net applies to psychologists as well, not just psychiatrists - so you're free to see either. Anything through the Medicare scheme attracts the safety net.

    As I mentioned above, check into it, it's not always automatic and they don't back pay. It's a simple phone call and just say you'd like to register as you have a number of health bills coming through. It then gets triggered on the system that as soon as you reach your threshold you will be entitled.

    Thresholds vary according to family income and status. So it's not the same for everyone. Again, it's a call to Medicare.

    Goodkuck x

    2 people found this helpful
  30. The Possum
    The Possum avatar
    259 posts
    3 July 2017 in reply to The Possum

    Just to clarify the safety net will pay on psychology fees that Medicare cover ie the 10 sessions and then the additional 5 sessions you are entitled to if you have a TeamCare arrangement completed by your GP.

    Once you have maxed out all the psychology you are entitled to under Medicare, then yes the psychology fees are deemed personally paid and then the safety net will obviously not cover any of the cost as Medicare no longer recognise these consults.

    So basically Medicare safety net for 15 sessions Max. In a year. After that you're on your own!

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