Medibank customers access mental health upgrade waiver

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Medibank says its customers spent more than 20,000 days in hospital for urgent mental health care in the first nine months of the mental health upgrade waiver.

Under the reform introduced in April last year, people with limited cover have been able to upgrade to access higher benefits for psychiatric care, without serving a waiting period.

Since the waiver was introduced, more than 700 customers have been admitted to hospital, said Medibank.

“Medibank has provided close to $15 million of care to more than 700 customers who were admitted to hospital for mental health care over a nine-month period last year as a result of the waiver,” said CEO Craig Drummond.

The insurer said the most common claims were from women living in metro areas, aged 30-to-39, with customers accessing care as a result of the waiver spending an average of 28 days in hospital. People living in metro areas made 72 per cent of the claims with 27 per cent coming from rural and regional areas.

“This highlights the key role the government’s reforms have played in strengthening access to acute mental health services,” said Mr Drummond.

A further 400 customers who have applied for the waiver are yet to claim but could be preparing for a hospital admission at a later date, said Medibank, adding it spent a total of $193 million on hospital mental health services in the financial year 2018.