On 29 March 2020, the Minister for Health announced that telehealth services would be expanded to all Australians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Whole of population’ telehealth services were introduced on 30 March 2020.
While the new COVID-19 items were initially available only to patients and providers with or at risk of the virus, this requirement has now been lifted and the services are available to all Medicare-eligible persons for the treatment of any condition, and can be provided by any practitioner qualified to provide the service in line with normal MBS arrangements. A service may only be provided by telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so. Providers do not need to physically be in their regular practice to provide telehealth services.
For more information regarding the new items visit MBS Online. A series of fact sheets has also been developed to support the introduction of these items.
Enquiries relating to the COVID-19 telehealth MBS items can be sent to askMBS@health.gov.au.
Telehealth available through a patient’s regular GP/practice: frequently asked questions
On 10 July 2020 the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced changes to the telehealth MBS items introduced in response to COVID-19. The changes promote patients receiving continuous care from a patient’s regular GP or medical practice and took effect on 20 July 2020.
The RACGP has developed an FAQ on the availability of telehealth through a patient’s regular GP/practice, including exemptions and exceptions to any restrictions. This FAQ is being updated as more information is made available.
Telehealth available through a patient’s regular GP/practice: frequently asked questions – last updated 23 July 2021.
Please provide any feedback on these changes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of 1 October 2020, the legislated requirement to bulk bill the COVID-19 telehealth services for certain patient groups is removed. You can now apply your ordinary billing practices to all of the telehealth items and all patients.
Alongside this, bulk billing incentive payments (items 10990, 10991, 74990 and 74991) return to their normal levels and the introduced incentives for vulnerable patients (items 10981 and 10982) are discontinued.
Item descriptors and rebates
Rebates for telehealth services are the same as those paid for the equivalent face-to-face services. These services are for non-admitted patients only. Telehealth items will be available until 31 December 2021.
A number of changes to MBS telehealth items for general practice services took effect on 1 July 2021. Please visit this page for more information.
For the most up-to-date list of telehealth item numbers and rebates, refer to the RACGP’s MBS Telehealth guide.