Mental Health Insurance

Compare health insurance plans which include care for mental health conditions here through Savvy. 

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, updated on July 6th, 2023       

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More than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their life, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.4% of Australians had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months.  

Because mental health is so important to so many Australians, finding a health insurance policy which offers the level of cover you need could be vital. You can compare a variety of health insurance policies through Savvy right here, considering offers side-by-side to determine which provides the most suitable mental health cover for your needs from among a panel of trusted providers. Get started through Savvy today. 

Does private health insurance cover mental health?

There are many ways that private health insurance can assist you to manage your mental health. If you have a hospital cover policy and require inpatient psychiatric care, your policy may cover some or all of the costs of your hospital stay, depending on the level of cover you have and where you receive your treatment. Extras cover may also offer assistance with the cost of seeing a counsellor or psychologist to help you get through challenging times. 

The good news is that you may not have to wait long to get help with the cost of inpatient mental health treatment. In 2018, the Australian Government introduced a waiting period exemption for higher benefits for mental health treatment as a private patient. The details of this scheme are as follows: 

Mental health waiting period exemption 

Cover for mental health treatment as a private inpatient in a public hospital is offered by all hospital cover policies. However, cover for in-hospital psychiatric services in a private hospital is only offered on a compulsory basis by gold tier hospital policies.  

However, under the government’s mental health waiting period exemption, if you wish to upgrade from your current policy to a gold tier hospital cover policy offering full coverage for inpatient psychiatric services, you can do so with no waiting period. This exemption to the usual two-month waiting period can only be claimed once in a lifetime and can enable those who urgently need private psychiatric inpatient treatment to receive it without any delays. 

What types of mental health treatment can be covered by a hospital policy? 

There are many private hospitals and clinics in Australia offering discreet inpatient treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, which may include: 

  • Inpatient treatment for severe depression 
  • Anxiety disorders including agoraphobia, claustrophobia and panic attacks 
  • Acute psychotic episodes (including schizophrenic episodes) 
  • Postnatal depression (mother-baby services) 
  • Drug and alcohol addiction issues 
  • Withdrawal from benzodiazepine or analgesic use 
  • Eating disorders (including anorexia and bulimia) 
  • Personality disorders (such as borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder) 
  • Neuropsychiatric conditions caused by acquired brain injury  
  • Neurocognitive and neurodegenerative issues (including dementia) 

If you have top hospital cover, the costs of being admitted to a private hospital or clinic offering specialist help with mental health conditions may be partially or completely covered by your private health insurance. As such, it’s important to check with your insurer and compare your options before you buy, which you can do right here through Savvy. 

What is included under mental health insurance cover?

A gold or silver plus hospital cover policy that includes private hospital psychiatric cover can help with many of the costs of receiving inpatient care, including:  

  • The cost of being admitted to either a public or private hospital or clinic as a private patient 
  • Costs associated with having a private room (subject to availability)  
  • Fees charged for consultations with psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors 
  • Medications prescribed whilst you’re an inpatient 

Extras cover may assist you with the costs of getting treatment for mental health issues in the community. This could involve seeing a counsellor or psychologist or having group therapy to assist you to live a happier life.  

Extras cover can also partially or wholly cover the cost of private: 

  • Counselling appointments with accredited mental health social workers 
  • Counselling appointments with accredited First Nations mental health care providers 
  • Telehealth counselling services  
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy 
  • Anxiety management therapy 
  • Relaxation techniques 
  • Some gap costs for medications including antidepressants and benzodiazepines 

By comparing health insurance policies through Savvy, you’ll be able to see the levels of cover on offer and look at different policies side-by-side so you can determine which is most appropriate for your situation from a panel of providers. 

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Frequently asked questions about mental health insurance

How is mental health covered by Medicare?

If you have a mental health plan organised by your GP, you may be eligible for up to ten sessions of counselling per calendar year which are covered by Medicare. If you require acute psychiatric care, you may be admitted as a public patient to a public hospital through a hospital emergency department, with the cost of your care able to be covered by Medicare. 

Will I need a referral from my GP to see a psychologist?

Yes – you’ll usually need a referral from your GP to set up an appointment with a psychologist which can be covered by your health insurance policy.  

Can I gain access to a mental health support line through my health insurance?

Many health insurers offer mental health support with their extras policies either through online or phone services. These additional wellbeing services are aimed at preventative measures to assist Aussies to cope with mental health issues before they become chronic or acute. 

Is the cost of anti-depression medication covered by Medicare?

Anti-depressive medication can be partially covered by Medicare, although there may be a small gap you’ll have to pay each time you get a script filled. Once you reach the Medicare Benefit Safety Net threshold, the level of assistance you receive with the cost of your medications will increase. 

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