Media releases

March 29, 2018

MEDIBANK AND AHM REMOVE THE WAIT FOR PSYCHOLOGY BENEFITS

Medibank and ahm welcome reforms improving access to mental health services and treatments

New Commonwealth reforms will make it easier for private health insurance customers to upgrade their policy and access in-hospital mental health services. From 1 April 2018, Medibank and ahm are going one step further - removing the two month waiting period on psychology services on current extras products.

Medibank Group Executive, Chief Customer Officer David Koczkar said these changes are important for customers in need of urgent mental health support.

“In addition to improving access for in-hospital services, it means our customers will be supported more quickly with out-of-hospital psychology services and support when they need it most,” said Mr Koczkar.

Mental health is a significant public health issue, with economic and social consequence for all Australians.  One in five Australians experience a mental health condition in a given year, and almost one in two will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime.

In line with the regulatory changes from 1 April, customers on basic or medium level hospital products - who have served their waiting period for limited mental health cover - will be able to upgrade their policy and access higher benefits for included in-hospital mental health services, without serving the standard two month waiting period. Patients will only be able use this exemption from the existing two month waiting period once in their lifetime. This change will particularly assist younger customers, who often have cover with limited mental health benefits.

Mr Koczkar said these improvements to in-hospital services means support can be accessed immediately when conditions, such as depression and anxiety, arise.

“Serving a waiting period can prevent patients from accessing timely care. Our customers will now be able to upgrade to a different policy with higher in-hospital mental health coverage and get earlier access to those higher benefits,” he said.

Medibank has already been making it easier for customers to access the latest clinical breakthrough for treatment-resistant depression – transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Medibank was the first major Australian health insurer to support eligible customers with out-patient TMS therapy. The Medibank TMS trial began in September 2017 and will run nationally until September 2018.

Supporting better mental health is a priority for Medibank and ahm. Medibank recently committed $1 million to establish the Medibank Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund, and is continuing its long association with beyondblue, including a three-year $300,000 partnership to assist with the development of its ‘BeyondNow’ app – a tool for helping health professionals reduce the risk of suicide in their patients.

In October 2017, the Commonwealth announced a raft of changes to private health insurance which are intended to make it simpler and more affordable for Australians.

“Medibank’s focus has been on how we can continue to address the issue of affordability for our customers.  The announcement by the Commonwealth was an important step, and we remain committed to driving cost from the system,” added Mr Koczkar.

 

Media enquiries          

Mia Greves on 0417 420 227 / mia.greves@medibank.com.au  

 

For background

With Medibank’s sponsorship of the 2018 Invictus Games, the Medibank Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund (MHWF) will this year have a strong focus on the mental health and wellbeing of ex-Australian Defence Force personnel and their families.

The MHWF builds on Medibank’s existing community partnerships, which saw $6.3 million invested in 2017.

Medibank and beyondblue have also joined forces on a new mental health portal on Medibank’s ‘Live Better’ website and social media channels. It contains tools to help people and their loved ones identify mental health issues and get support. It features interactive content, including videos and checklists with advice from beyondblue and Medibank mental health experts.

Recognising the relationship of better physical and mental health, Medibank recently launched nationally the Medibank ‘Free + Active’ program. Over the next five years, this program will encourage Australians to be healthier and happier, with the goal of getting 1.5 million people active in mind, body and the community. This program also supports ‘parkrun’ - which delivers five kilometre timed runs and walks in over 250 locations across Australia, and non-profit surf community ‘OneWave’ - which tackles mental health issues with a combination of “salt water, surfing and fluoro”.

Medibank and ahm employees are also supported through its FlexBetter working options. FlexBetter gives all employees the chance to embrace a healthier way of working, offering flexibility in how and where they work. As part of FlexBetter, employees experiencing mental distress and hardship as a result of domestic and family violence, are now offered uncapped and paid leave.


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