COVID-19 MBS telehealth Items

19 Mar 2020

Temporary MBS telehealth and phone consultation items were introduced on 13 March in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

These items are intended to support GPs to deliver services via videoconference and phone to patients to reduce the risk of transmission to GPs, practice staff and patients. The Government has determined that these items can only be bulk billed.

The new items will be in place for six months, with possible extension considered by the Government is recommended by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

Note that the telehealth item descriptors mirror those of existing face to face consultation items (equivalent items can be found in a table here).

Who is eligible?

Medicare rebates will be paid for services provided to:

  1. Patients that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but who are not a patient of a hospital; or
  2. Patients that are isolating themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee; or
  3. Patients considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being:
    • at least 70 years old, or
    • at least 50 years old or over if of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
    • pregnant; or
    • a parent of a child under 12 months; or
    • a person under treatment for chronic health conditions or who is immune compromised; or
  4. People that meet the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.

In relation to services for patients more susceptible to the virus (option 3), they must have had at least one face to face attendance in the last 12 months with the GP who provides the COVID-19 service, or the practice where the GP is employed. 

This requirement does not apply to the Focussed Psychological Strategies or obstetrician items.

Health professionals at risk of COVID-19 can also use the temporary MBS items to practice from home if it is appropriate and feasible to do so if they have been:

  1. diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but are not a patient of a hospital; or
  2. required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

We expect further changes will be made in the immediate future to protect vulnerable practitioners.

Information about the new items is available from MBS online here.

Factsheets are available from MBS Online for each of the temporary bulk billed telehealth items here.

Instructions on how to bulk bill patients when performing telehealth and phone consultations are available here.