Author: Jessica Elberg

Back to Halaxy

Well that was quite the learning experience!

We’ve moved back to Halaxy for bookings and payment after trying out a new platform called Splose.

We were quite excited for the new platform which had many great features but ultimately it had some key features missing which we use every day, resulting in a lot of additional manual admin.

So we’ve moved back to Halaxy and everything will be as it was.

We apologise for any inconvenience this caused.

For those of you who noticed the change there really isn’t anything you need to do, you will just receive updates and make bookings from Halaxy again.

Thanks!

New Location

Face to face sessions are now available in the St Kilda-ish area!

Existing clients might remember before COVID our St Kilda Counselling Clinic had rooms based in an old building in St Kilda.

Did you know we started as “St Kilda Counselling Clinic” ? That’s why if you type in stkildacounsellingclinic.com you come straight here 🙂

This time we are opening with much nicer rooms very close by in Elsternwick.

The new location is 57 Orrong Road, Elsternwick which is a short distance away from the old rooms and has much easier parking and access.

Sessions are available here with Jessica every Monday and we look forward to seeing you.

Things that are new

We have started the week with a few changes, as you may already have noticed if you had sessions today.

Our New Location in Elsternwick

Firstly, we are excited about moving to our new St Kilda area location, just a short distance away in Elsternwick. You can read the full update about that here.

Secondly we have changed Practice Management solutions from Halaxy to Splose.

Splose is a great platform made right here in Australia so we are proud to support a local business and while there shouldn’t be much impact to you there are a few differences.

Medicare Rebates

You need to ensure your bank account is updated with Medicare. As Splose use a Medicare Payment provider called Medipass to process rebates, and Medipass use whatever bank account is set up with Medicare.

Here are the different ways you can register or update your bank information with Medicare:

If you have any questions or need further guidance, please let us know by chatting to us via the chat bubble located on the bottom right of this window. 

Your Payment Details

For those who had automatic payment set up, since we changed systems we no longer have your payment details saved. Remember how you hear “Your card details are kept securely?” That’s very true, we can’t see these details so we couldn’t move them to the new system for you. You’ll need to save these again when paying for your next session.

New Online Bookings Page

Everything should still work pretty much the same here, with a nice fresh new look you can still conveniently make bookings online.

You’ll notice a few new options here.

Our two physical locations for face to face are Hawthorn East and St Kilda / Elsternwick.

For Telehealth, you can choose My Counselling Clinic – Telehealth or select Telehealth Evenings to enjoy our new after 5pm services.

Telehealth Video appointments have changed to Zoom.

For those of you who like to make use of our Telehealth services from the comfort of your own home you’ll notice the invitations now come from Zoom. There is no software download required, as usual just click the link when you are ready for your session.

That’s all for now. Let us know if you have any questions.

Why We Don’t Bulk Bill

We’ve written before in detail about our pricing and why we had to change our fees, why we need to charge a gap. Because while GP’s have been screaming loudly – and often their voice is heard in mainstream media – Counsellors, Psychologists and other Allied Mental Health Practitioners have not been so lucky.

Thankfully that appears to have started to change, with a recent article by The Guardian titled Bulk-billing psychologists earn as little as $12 an hour.

“It is pretty much impossible to run a clinic as a bulk-billing psychologist,”

– a Psychologist in the Same Guardian article

Our clinic faces much the same issue, except as Accredited Mental Health Social Workers providing Counselling the rebate from Medicare is around $10 less than seeing a Psychologist.

We try to mitigate the impact this has on our clients by providing choice. Telehealth for example has less overheads, no room fees, no travel, is convenient for both the Counsellor and the Client so we offer it at a discount price ($160 vs $210 for Face to Face). And overall our fees are considerably lower than the $240 per hour rate recommended by the AASW.

So while we absolutely believe all Australians should have free Healthcare, including Mental Health care, the current Medicare rebates make that impossible and Clinics like ours either need to charge a Gap or shut down.

Who’s Who in Mental Health Services

There is a common misconception that you can only be referred to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist for your mental health. With long waiting lists for these professions it is even more important to understand the full list of available to treat you, many who have immediate availability and charge less.

GPs can write mental health treatment plans and, depending on your needs, might refer you to a counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/whos-who-in-mental-health-services

There are actually many Mental Health Services available, depending on what your needs are.

www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au has a full list of who you can seek help from

The full list of Mental Health Services are:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Mental Health Nurses
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workers
  • Social Workers
  • Counsellors
  • Peer Workers
  • Mental health occupational therapists
  • Mental health recovery and rehabilitation workers

A longer list than you would have imagined? If you or someone you support is accessing treatment for a mental health condition, you will probably come across a range of mental healthcare and welfare professionals who will have a role in the treatment.

Many of our Counsellors are in fact Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSW), the Accreditation that gives social workers the ability to provide services under Medicare. As Counselling is the service they offer it is common to use the term Counsellor so they can be found by people seeking Counselling. You can see their credentials by clicking on them in our Team Page.

Read the full article at the Better Health Channel

Changes to fees

Changes to fees as of 1st of June

From the start of next month we’ll be introducing changes to our fees and how Medicare rebates are processed. Previously we simply charged clients a Gap payment. As of next June we will need to charge our full fee and you will receive the rebate from Medicare in your bank account.

  • Payment changes to up-front payment for full fee instead of just Gap payment.
  • Rebates are now automatically paid back into your account within 1-2 business days of invoice payment.
  • After rebate the remaining Gap out of pocket amount changes to $59.90, an increase of $9.90 after rebate.
  • Note this does not effect NDIS clients who do not operate under Medicare.

What do I need to do?

Existing clients should Click here to fill our online intake form to update your details. This will allow you to enter information necessary for Medicare Rebates processing and card details for optional automatic payment of invoices if that is your preference.

Why the change  – short version

  • Medicare rebates have been frozen since 2014.
  • Cost of living and other costs associated with providing mental health services have not.
  • Medicare requires us to charge you up front if we are not bulk billing you.

Longer version

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) lists the services the Australian government will provide a Medicare rebate for. Medicare rebates don’t cover the full cost of services and are typically paid as a percentage of the Medicare schedule fee. 

There is often a gap between what Australians pay for services and the amount that Medicare reimburses (A$77.10 for a counselling consultation, for example). This out-of-pocket expense  is known as a Gap, as the client is required to make up the difference out of his or her own pocket.

Organisations such as the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have long argued this process is inadequate and Medicare schedule fees have not kept up with “real” increases in costs to medical practitioners of delivering services.

The rebate freeze compounds this financial challenge by continuing to keep prices at what the AMA and others argue are “unsustainable levels”. The freeze to Medicare rebate increases was introduced in 2014 and is still in effect.

The freeze means those professionals who have not seen it lifted are reimbursed the same for delivering health services today as they were in 2014.

Why there is a GAP

Professionals are paying more for their practices, staff, medical products, utilities and just about anything else that goes into running a health service. But the rebate amount paid remains static. GP clinics’s can cover this shortfall by seeing more patients in an hour. Other professionals such as Counsellors are restricted to minimum consultation times (50 minutes) and introduce a GAP to cover changes to living and operating costs over time while still achieving a living income.

We apologise for any inconvenience these changes may cause, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Jessica Elberg

Director and Principal Counsellor

My Counselling Clinic