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Allied Health is a term used to describe a broad range of health professionals who are not doctors, dentists or nurses1. The term “Allied Health” is relatively new and there is no universally accepted definition of Allied Health professions – in fact, government departments, health service providers, health insurers, and education providers all have different interpretations of which professions comprise Allied Health1.
However there is general agreement that Allied Health professionals1:
Australia has more than 195,000 allied health professionals who represent more than a quarter of our health workforce1. Allied Health professionals provide essential care for people of all ages, including those with chronic illnesses, mental illnesses, and those experiencing disability2.
Allied Health professionals include3:
Allied Health professionals work in a range of settings including hospitals, aged-care facilities, rehabilitation services, community health centres, medical clinics and private practice4. Their role is often focused on improving quality of life and helping people to care for themselves5.
Most Allied Health professions are regulated by and registered with a national body or through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)4.
Allied Health services can usually be accessed directly by patients without a referral6. If you’re entitled to free or discounted Allied Health treatment via Medicare or an aged-care or disability provider, you may need a referral from your GP to claim these benefits6.
Allied Health services are generally not covered by Medicare, however there are some exceptions4. If you have a chronic health condition or complex care needs, you may be eligible for Medicare rebates on some treatments if your GP has created a management plan for you7.
For most Allied Health services, you’ll need a referral from your GP if you’re eligible to receive a Medicare rebate6.
Some community health centres and public hospitals offer free or low-cost Allied Health services, although there’s often a long wait time to get an appointment4.
Your GP is a good starting point if you’re looking for an Allied Health professional – they have a good understanding of your medical history and can provide some local recommendations. You can also speak with family and friends about their experiences.
Alternatively, the National Health Services Directory8 is a government-run directory that allows users to search for Allied Health professionals anywhere in Australia.
Different insurers and policies will provide varying benefits in terms of the services you’re able to claim for, and the amount you’re entitled to receive from the health fund, so it’s worth doing your research to ensure your health insurance policy is right for you.
Understanding Allied Health can be challenging because there’s not a definitive list of Allied Health professions1. If you think you may need to visit an Allied Health professional, it may be worthwhile making an appointment with your GP to discuss your health concern further.
If you’ve been referred to or are planning to visit an Allied Health professional, but are unsure whether you’re covered by Medicare, or able to make a claim with your private health insurer, contact that Allied Health professional’s offices for guidance.
Lastly, if you’re finding that your extras policy doesn’t cover the Allied Health services you’re using, it may be worth switching health insurers. At iSelect, we can help you to compare policies and find one that suits you. Call us today on 1800 784 772.