health insurance psychology image holding hands

Health insurance for psychology sessions

Compare health insurance extras policies that cover psychological therapy and counselling.

Extras cover can have options for counselling and psychology. It can work alongside Medicare if you need ongoing psychological treatment or can be a great option if you just need a few sessions with a psychologist.

Many extras policies have short waiting periods for psychology and lots of other great extras like dental, optical and natural therapies.

Get quotes from 30+ brands for an extras policy that covers psychology.

When you get your quotes on the next page, just click refine search and then choose psychology under extras cover.

What is psychology?

As far as health care is concerned, psychology is professional counselling or therapy for a range of mental issues, conducted by a trained clinical psychologist. These issues can be anything from a diagnosed mental illness like bipolar disorder to short-term issues like work-related stress.

A psychologist can help with any of the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Everyday stress
  • Relationship issues and marriage counselling
  • Phobias
  • Addictions
  • Grief
  • The mental aspect of pain management
  • Post-natal depression

What does a psychologist do?

The main job of a psychologist is to help people cope with whatever is troubling them mentally, from everyday concerns to more complex mental illnesses. They do this by using a range of therapies that can be collectively called "psychotherapy". Through psychotherapy, patients can learn any number of new skills including better ways to think, act, communicate and manage their emotions.

Psychologists are trained to observe the mental states of their patients and adjust their treatment plans in a way that gives each patient the best opportunity to apply what they've learned in therapy. For example, psychologists might use hypnosis to help patients relax so that their mind can be open to new ideas.

Some common therapies include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy. A therapy that helps you identify and change unhelpful thought and behavioural patterns.
  • Humanistic therapy. A therapy that helps you learn more self-awareness and to develop a positive, healthier attitude.
  • Psychoanalysis. A therapy that helps you explore your unconscious thought patterns.
  • Integrative therapy. An approach to therapy that combines elements of many of the other therapies in a way that is specific to each patient.
  • Hypnosis. A tool that is used to help you relax into a state where you are more open to helpful suggestions (but still present enough to reject harmful suggestions).

A psychologist does not prescribe medication to treat mental problems. You would need a psychiatrist for that, although your GP can prescribe some medications related to mental illness should they be required.

What psychology support is available on Medicare?

The Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative lets people claim up to 10 psychology sessions per year through Medicare. You're required to visit a GP for a consult to receive the sessions.

This can be a good solution if you’re looking for ongoing support, and can also be combined with additional sessions via private health insurance.

By following a few simple steps, almost anyone with temporary or ongoing mental issues can get covered. Here's what you need to do:

  • Visit your GP. Your GP will need to create a mental health treatment plan to determine if psychology is right for you.
  • Get your mental health treatment plan. You and your GP will work together to create a treatment plan that could include medication, psychiatry, psychology and/or wellness programs like yoga.
  • Get your referral. If the GP recommends psychology, you will need a referral to be eligible for the Medicare rebate.
  • See your psychologist. You will initially get up to six sessions for your first "course of treatment".
  • Revisit your GP. If at any time you aren't feeling it with one psychologist, you can ask for a referral to see another. Or if you need additional sessions, you can ask for another course of treatment that will cover you for up to four more visits.

Medicare will rebate you $84.80 per 50+ minute session with a general psychologist, and $124.50 for a session with a clinical psychologist as long as you are on a mental health treatment plan. If the actual cost for a session is greater than this, you’ll have to pay the difference.

When you are booking your appointment, remember to ask for the fees up front so you know how mych out-of-pocket expense to expect.

What psychology support is available through private health insurance?

Most insurers offer psychology cover through an extras policies, which typically also includes dental, optical and natural therapies cover.

You don't need to see a GP first, you don't need a referral and you don't need a mental health treatment plan. Depending on which level you sign up to, your plan will have a set dollar limit which you are allowed to claim throughout the year.

Which Australian health funds cover psychology?

Below are a few of the finder.com.au panel that cover psychology in extras. We've displayed the Psychology yearly limit. They also include other benefits such as dental, optical or physio - using the range of extras covered is a great way to get value for money.

Provider Limit Wait Period Cost per month Apply

Lifestyle

$250 No Wait Period $49.86 Go to site

Classic

$250 2 months $55.03 Go to site

Gold

$350 2 months $54.97 Go to site

*Price based on a single living in NSW, always check for combined limits

What should you be aware of when using private psychology cover?

When comparing health insurance policies you'll want one that offers the best value, and there's more to value than just price. Keep an eye out for how insurers treat the following:

  • Your benefit limits. This is the maximum amount you can claim each year for services like psychology and dental. Sometimes these services will have separate limits (for example, $300 for psych and $300 for dental), but other times they'll have combined limits (using the same example, $600 to use wherever you'd like). A policy with combined limits is often the better choice.
  • In-network versus out-of-network providers. Your extras cover will most likely pay for a percentage of each therapy session, while you pay the rest. Some insurers will pay a higher percentage if you use a phycologist in their network. The savings may or may not be worth it depending on the size of their network.
  • Waiting periods. If this is a new policy, you'll probably have to wait before you can claim on psychology treatments. If you look hard enough, you may be able to find a special offer that will waive your waiting periods for some treatments including psychology.

Medicare v Private health insurance – which option is best?

There are benefits and drawbacks to both systems, but the beauty is that you can take full advantage of both. You won't be refused Medicare cover if you've already used your private cover or vice versa. So in most cases, having private cover is a no-brainer.

Here are some reasons why private cover makes sense:

  • If you only need a couple of sessions. If you only need a few sessions for a minor issue like work-related stress, Medicare will work but you'll need to see your GP first. Private health insurance allows you to be more discreet and go directly to the therapist without needing your GP's referral or a treatment plan.
  • If you know you need ongoing therapy. Medicare limits you to 10 sessions per year, or less than one a month. Depending on your policy, private insurance might cover anywhere from 2-5 sessions. But the good news is, you can use them both one after the other in any order. Now you can get the ongoing treatment you need while saving a big chunk of change in the process.
  • If you need therapy, but don't know how much you need. In this case, you'd go with the Medicare option while keeping your private cover in your back pocket. If you need more than 10 sessions, then whip out your private cover. If you don't need the extra sessions, your private cover can still save you tons on other essential extras like your twice-a-year dental cleanings.

How do I claim for mental health treatment?

You'll usually have a few options. Depending on who you are insured with, you may be able to claim by:

  • Swiping your health insurance card when paying.
  • Using your health fund’s mobile app.
  • Filling out a claims form and faxing, emailing or posting it to your insurer.
  • Visiting your health fund's office in person with your claims form.
  • Getting treated by a provider affiliated with your health fund who will lodge your claim directly.

Can overseas visitors get psychology cover?

If you are an overseas visitor, such as a student or worker, there are ways to get cover for psychology, but you may have to jump through a few hoops:

  • Through a reciprocal health care agreement. If you are from a country that has an agreement in place to provide healthcare to each others’ citizens, you can get up to 10 psychology sessions per year. This requires a visit to your GP who will want to see evidence that you need counselling for an ongoing mental health issue that has caused problems in your life.
  • By purchasing private health cover. The only private cover available to long-stay visitors is either Overseas Visitors Health Cover for workers (OVHC) or Overseas Student Health Cover for students (OSHC). Top level policies will offer cover for treatments known as “extras” like dental, physio and acupuncture. It’s not common for them to offer psychology, but you may find it in one of these top level policies.
  • More cover for psychology from health funds

    Health fundExtras policies and annual benefit limits*Waiting periods
    HIF health insurance
    • Premium Options. $1,000 per person
    • Super Options. $740 per person
    • 12 months
    health.com.au health insurance
    • High. $200 per person
    • Middle. $200 per person
    • Extras 50. $250 per person
    • 2 months
    Health Care Insurance
    • Premier Extras. $250 per person
    • 2 months
    teachers health fund
    • Restricted health fund
    • Top Extras. $600 per person
    • 2 months
    CBHS Health Fund
    • Restricted health fund
    • Top Extras. $450 per person
    • 2 months
    AHM health insurance
    • Super Extras. $300 per person
    • Family Extras. $250 per person
    • Lifestyle Extras. $250 per person
    • No waiting period
    Australian Unity
    • Gold Extras. $350 per person
    • 2 months
    GMHBA health fund
    • Gold Extras. $500 per person
    • Silver Extra. $300 per person
    • 2 months
    HCF health insurance
    • Platinum Extras. $600 per person
    • Gold Extras. $350 per person
    • 2 months
    nib health insurance
    • Top Extras. $500 per person
    • 2 months
    Transport Health insurance
    • Top Extras. $500 per person
    • 2 months

    *The policies listed in this table are extras only. However, in most cases these can be combined with hospital cover.

    Health fundExtras policies and annual benefit limits*Waiting periods
    ahm
    • Super Extras. $300 per person
    • Family Extras. $250 per person
    • Lifestyle Extras. $250 per person
    • No waiting period
    Australian Unity
    • Gold Extras. $350 per person
    • 2 months
    Bupa
    • Silver Extras. $400 per person
    • Gold Extras. $500 per person
    • Platinum Extras. $750 per person
    • 2 months
    Cessnock District Health Fund
    • Gold Extras. $600 per person
    • Silver Extras. $400 per person
    • Bronze Extras. $600 per person
    • 2 months
    CUA Health
    • Total Extras. $500 per person
    • Classic Extras. $250 per person
    • 2 months
    GMF
    • Complete Extras. $850 per person
    • Mid Extras. $850 per person
    • 12 months
    GMHBA
    • Gold Extras. $500 per person
    • Silver Extra. $300 per person
    • 2 months
    HBF
    • Flexi Extras Plus. $600 per person
    • Flexi Extras Mid. $450 per person
    • Flexi Extras. $300 per person
    • 2 months
    HCF
    • Platinum Extras. $600 per person
    • Gold Extras. $350 per person
    • 2 months
    Health Care Insurance
    • Premier Extras. $250 per person
    • 2 months
    health.com.au
    • High. $200 per person
    • Middle. $200 per person
    • Extras 50. $250 per person
    • 2 months
    hif
    • Premium Options. $1,000 per person
    • Super Options. $740 per person
    • 12 months
    Latrobe Health Services
    • Premier Gold, Family Care Gold. $450 per person
    • Premier Silver, Family Care. $300 per person
    • Premier, Premier Plus. $300 per person
    • 2 months
    Medibank
    • Top Extras. $200 per person
    • Growing Family Extras. $400 per person
    • Healthy Start Extras. $500 per person
    • 2 months
    Mildura Health Fund
    • Five Star Extras. $650 per person
    • Ancillary Plus Extras. $540 per person
    • 2 months
    nib
    • Top Extras. $500 per person
    • 2 months
    onemedifund
    • Extras Plus. $500 per person
    • 2 months
    Peoplecare
    • Premium Extras. $500 per person
    • High Extras. $400 per person
    • 2 months
    Phoenix Health Fund
    • Top Extras. $500 per person.
    • 2 months
    Queensland Country Health Fund
    • Premium Extras. $1,400 per person
    • Essential Extras. $900 per person
    • 2 months
    St. Lukes Health
    • Super Extras. $400 per person
    • 12 months
    Transport Health
    • Top Extras. $500 per person
    • 2 months
    ACA Health
    • Restricted health fund
    • Complete Extras. $500 per person
    • 2 months
    CBHS health fund
    • Restricted health fund
    • Top Extras. $450 per person
    • 2 months
    Defence Health
    • Restricted health fund
    • Premier Extras. $1500 per person
    • Value Extras. $1100 per person
    • 2 months
    Doctors Health Fund
    • Restricted health fund
    • Total Extras. $600 per person
    • Essential Extras. $900 per person
    • Basic Extras. $400 per person
    • 2 months
    Navy Health
    • Restricted health fund
    • Premium Extras. $600 per person
    • Healthy Living Extras. $400 per person
    • 2 months
    Police Health
    • Restricted health fund
    • SureCover Extras. $850 per person
    • 2 months
    Reserve Bank Health Society
    • Restricted health fund
    • Extras Cover. $920 per person
    • 2 months
    RT Health
    • Restricted health fund
    • Premium Extras. $500 per person
    • Smart Extras. $400 per person
    • 2 months
    Teachers Health Fund
    • Restricted health fund
    • Top Extras. $600 per person
    • 2 months
    TUH
    • Restricted health fund
    • Comprehensive Extras. $400 per person
    • Healthy Options 60% Extras. $1,000 per person
    • Mid Range Extras. $250 per person
    • 2 months

    *The policies listed in this table are extras only. However, in most cases these can be combined with hospital cover.

    Continue reading:

    Picture: Unsplash

    Latest headlines

Brad Buzzard

Brad is an insurance writer whose background in analytics makes him the perfect person to research, analyse and interpret the complex world of insurance. When not writing, you can find Brad in the nearest yoga studio.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

You might like these...

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site