“I love the irony. I’m perceived as being really young and yet I have the clinical condition of an old man.”Michael J Fox
Perception is always tricky and more so when discussing money or fee for service.
Ironically, my theme for this week is perceived value and I often preplan some of my marketing and Facebook posts early. As I write this (on Saturday 23rd April 2021), perceived value is being played out in the media very publicly. It began on “A Current Affair” and is now happening in the social media platforms with General Practitioners and Allied Health Professionals having the conversation about Medicare rebates and the inability to continue bulk billing as a viable and sustainable business model. One of a Facebook posts that I have seem, highlighted a GP’s 20-minute rebate as $39.10 per client and how this fee is utilised for the overhead expenses (rent, electricity, nurses, equipment) and the GP’s share is less than $10.
The same applies for Allied Health staff, such as me as a Mental Health Social Worker with the rebate of $77.80 for a minimum 50-minute session. The rebate does not include time spent on my notes and contacts that I need to make on the client’s behalf, which may add on another 40 minutes in time. The rebate is almost half of my fee (and one that is much lower than that suggested by my association). In fact, the Medicare rebate is similar to what I would be paid if I was employed at a Health Service. This fee is the expected annual salary when averaged out daily and including the benefits of annual leave, Rostered Day Off and other entitlements.
As a clinician, my fees need to pay a range of services and education for me to remain in business and be current in my preferred therapies, especially if my clients are claiming the Medicare rebate – I covered this in a blog recently that the Government has restrictions on which treatments can be utilised under Medicare.
The fees that I set (not the Government), need to compensate for the training I have undertaken to date – my original bachelor’s degree and then the master’s along with the many hours of education and training that I have continued to develop since my initial graduation as a Social Worker.
The great news is that Medicare is not the only rebate available for Accredited Mental Health Social Workers clients. From April 1st, Private Health Funds are providing claims to their members. It may be worth checking this out.
For others, Employee Assistance Programs may assist in funding a small number of sessions. You may be eligible for a Carer Gateway funding or the NDIS. For others, they self-fund as a way of maintaining their health and wellbeing. The choice is always yours.