Public hospitals will provide many allied health services as part of the admission process. Which service are available depends on the size and location of the hospital.
Public hospitals may have allied health practitioners on staff or contracted to provide services. The cost of services may depend on the level of private health insurance and the condition being treated.
Public hospitals may offer outpatient allied health services either as follow up post discharge or from direct referral. Waiting lists can be extensive in public hospital outpatient clinics.
Community Allied Health
Community based allied health services may be available through publicly funded community health services, but more often by practitioners operating in private practices. Access to these services may be supported through government programs or other sources of funding.
Allied health services can usually be accessed directly by any patient paying privately without a referral, including those who may claim rebates through a private health insurer. Community health centres also accept self-referral.
A range of national and state-based funding schemes and programs are available to help people access allied health services by meeting some or all of the cost. In these cases you may need a referral, typically from a general practitioner.
Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)
The DVA funds a wide range of allied health services required by veterans and/or their widows if they are holders of a DVA Gold Card. Similar funding is available for DVA White Card holders where those services are required because of their accepted war-caused or service-related condition(s).
DVA funding of allied health services is bound by the conditions of the DVA fee schedule. More information for allied health practitioners and for veterans and their families is available via the link below.
More information: https://www.dva.gov.au/providers/allied-health-professionals
Medicare includes programs to provide limited access to allied health services. These cover many allied health professions and services though some allied health professions do not currently attract Medicare rebates. In addition to specialised funding for optometry, audiology and diagnostic services, Medicare also has programs to provide access to services for people with chronic illnesses, children with autism, and those experiencing mental ill health. Access to Medicare funding for most services, apart from optometry and audiology, requires a referral from a general practitioner or specialist in limited circumstances. Allied health practitioners may bulk bill Medicare services but most will charge a gap fee due to low rebate levels.
Private Health Insurance
General treatment insurance, more typically referred to as ‘Extras’ cover, can help fund the cost of allied health treatments. However, there is significant variation in what individual policies cover and significant gap fees may apply. AHPA recommends people carefully consider the services they may need and spend time researching which policies best meet those needs.
My Aged Care
Older people that are deemed eligible are now able to access funded services, including allied health services, through the My Aged Care portal. The older person can be referred by a family member or health professional and will then be assessed by either a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) or an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine their level of need. They may then be assigned funding through either Commonwealth Home Support Programme if they require only minimal support, or through a Home Care Package if they have more complex needs. Once an older person is assigned funding, they are able to access a range of allied health services including but not limited to physiotherapy, podiatry, speech pathology, occupational therapy and dietetics.
Community health services
State and Territory governments in Australia fund access to allied health services, through local community health services. These services are intended to provide universal access to a range of health providers with a particular focus on delivering targeted services for vulnerable population groups but are open to anyone. Waiting lists can be extensive.
More information: Due to significant variation in availability of types of services AHPA recommends searching online or contacting your local health centre or council for more information.
Worker’s Compensation Schemes
If you have had a workplace injury and have your claim accepted a wide range of allied health professionals may be accessed. Refer to your state schemes for further information.
If you have a disability and are assessed as eligible for the NDIS, a wide range of allied health services can be incorporated as part of your plan, depending on assessed needs.
More information: Further information can be found on the NDIS website. Allied health professionals may also assist you to provide evidence for your application for NDIS support.