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Why aren't my counselling sessions free?

I have a Mental Health Care Plan. So why aren’t my sessions free? I get asked this question, at least weekly!!!! Short answer. The Medicare rebate is not enough to pay my business bills. I am a private service, I can charge what I like. Current Medicare rebates are not enough to pay a wage let alone run a profitable business

We are so fortunate in Australia to have a public healthcare system that foots the bill for public hospital services. But in reality, it is our taxes that pay for this system, the service is not free. What many people don’t realise is that the Medicare rebate that Health professionals like doctors, Physios, Osteos, Psychologists, Speechies and Mental Health Social Workers are eligible to provide is actually a pittance when it comes to running a business. Yes we are all in small business. This is why private providers choose to charge a gap fee. This is why many GPs are now moving away from bulk billing. And yes GPs are also a small business. Providing a bulk billing service is not a sustainable business model for anyone in private practice


Businesses like mine are no different to mechanics or hairdressers. I am providing a service and I need to be paid adequately for that service, which of course includes utilising my qualifications, skills and decades of experience. I have endless business expenses to pay. It is not possible to run a small business funded entirely by Medicare, particularly when you consider that the average commercial lease is $30,000-$50,000 per annum. And that is just one business related expense. I also need to pay electricity, internet, phone, water and body corporate fees which on their own run into the thousands each year. Add to this liability insurance and income protection and staff wages and there is not much left.

When it comes to the services I provide at Mindful Life Wellness, a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) will fund your counselling session to the tune of around 50-60%. The client must pick up the balance. And if your child is attending Kids Mindfulness and they have a MHCP, class fees are reduced by around $20 per session. These are substantial savings to the client. There is also a Medicare safety net, which means that once you have paid a certain amount out in gap fees, you'll start getting higher Medicare refunds. This means you'll get more money back per session. Read more about this here

So the next time you attend a doctor or an Allied Health Professional remember they are also a small business who needs to take a wage and pay bills. Please do not argue with them over fees or demand that they bulk bill you. I have had potential referrals become abusive over the phone when I advise I do not bulk bill. Would you ask your mechanic or hairdresser to reduce their fee to you? I am thinking not.

For more information on services and fees provided by Mindful Life Wellness. Please check out the link below

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