At Positive Mind Works, we understand that the ongoing cost of health care can have a stressful impact on family members financially. Sadly, ‘cost’ has been identified as one of the top three barriers to accessing mental health support in Australia.

    For this reason, we want to share a little more about a scheme called The Medicare Safety Net.

    This initiative can help lessen the cost of treatment for all Australians, particularly those who require regular medical appointments, have a large family, hold a concession card or receive Family Tax Benefit A.

    We find that many of our clients are unaware of how exactly the Medicare Safety Net scheme works. Let’s take a look in detail what is involved in receiving these benefits.

    What is the Medicare Safety Net?

    This initiative is readily available to all who are registered with Medicare.
    When you access a service through Medicare, they will pay you a rebate – leaving you with an out-of-pocket cost. However, when a specific amount in gap payments for Medical or Allied Health services has been paid, the Safety Net kicks in. At this point, Medicare will pay 80% of your out-of-pocket costs, reducing the total amount you are paying.

    What is the Safety Net threshold?

    If you are single, Medicare will automatically pay you the safety net benefits once you reach the threshold. So for an individual that does not hold a concession card, the threshold is reached when you have paid a total of $2249.80 in out-of-pocket services.
    If you are a family and do not hold a concession card, the safety net threshold is reached when the whole family have paid a total of $2249.80 in out-of-pocket services.

    For the purposes of the Medicare safety Net, Medicare determines a family is:
    – A couple who are legally married (not separated), or if you are in a de facto relationship, with or without children who are dependants.
    – A single person who has dependent children

    Important point: Many people do not realise that even if your spouse or dependent children are listed on your Medicare Card, this does not automatically register you as a family for safety net purposes. Each family member needs to be identified so their costs can be allocated towards your family safety net.

    How do I register?

    To register, you must complete a form on the Services Australia website or Medicare Express app. Alternatively you can visit your local Medicare office. You will need to state that your spouse and dependent children are part of one family unit. Unless you do, Medicare will consider you as separate individuals with the Safety Net threshold of $2249.80 each, instead of $2249.80 collectively. You only need to register your family once and registering is free.

    What services count towards the safety net?

    Any out of hospital GP services or other medical specialists count, as do pathology radiology services. The good news is that this also includes services like psychology and psychiatry. While regular, on-going psychology sessions can add up financially, the Medicare Safety Net will help reduce the gap fees associated with it.

    We hope that this information provides some relief to families that are experiencing hardship during these trying times. If you have any questions about rebates or the safety net, please contact our friendly reception team on 1800 327 477 (AU) / 0800 327 477 (NZ)

    Associated information:

    Talking to Your GP About Your Mental Health

    NDIS Psychologists – What is NDIS Funding?

    Medicare Safety Net Scheme