Federal Government commits $110.7m funding towards treatment of eating disorders

Evelyn Lewin

10/12/2018 2:04:41 PM

Patients will be able to access up to 60 appointments with psychologists and dietitians.

Around 30,000 people with eating disorders will benefit from new Medicare funding from November 2019.
Around 30,000 people with eating disorders will benefit from new Medicare funding from November 2019.

Australians with severe eating disorders will be able to access comprehensive treatment plans under Medicare for the first time from 1 November 2019.
These patients will be eligible to receive 40 subsidised psychological services and 20 dietetic services each year.
This is in contrast to current plans, which allow patients to access Medicare rebates for up to 10 sessions of psychological therapy per year under a Mental Health Treatment Plan, and five sessions with a dietitian through a Chronic Disease Management Plan.
The Federal Government’s $110.7 million investment into Medicare over four years is estimated to benefit around 30,000 people each year living with eating disorders. The subsidies would save patients and their families up to $90,000 annually.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said this move will be pivotal for Australians experiencing eating disorders.
‘It is the first time there has ever been a dedicated eating disorders item or set of treatment services available under Medicare,’ Mr Hunt said.
According to The Age, a survey commissioned by the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders earlier this year found that one in three patients experiencing an eating disorder goes into debt to pay for treatment, 55% stopped working or studying due to their illness, and one quarter go without basic and essential healthcare or living necessities.
According to Minister Hunt, the fact the new program is a Medicare item means it will be funded regardless of who is in power after next year’s election.
‘It is only right that we recognise these debilitating conditions within our Medicare system,’ he said. ‘It can’t be hidden. As a parent, I know we need to make this change.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a joint statement with Mr Hunt on Sunday.
‘Eating disorders can be debilitating for both men and women of any age and this illness is one of the many nightmares parents have for their children,’ they said. ‘It can strike and tear apart any home as it tries to rob the life and spirit of those dear ones afflicted.
‘We have worked closely with medical experts and key stakeholder for many months to achieve this outcome.’
The Government will also provide $4m over four years to the InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders to support research into better treatment and care for people living with an eating disorder.
Around 4% of the Australian population is currently experiencing an eating disorder, accounting for close to one million people. Suicide rates for anorexia are 32 times higher than the general population.
Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan welcomes this new initiative.
‘We know from personal stories shared with Butterfly that thousands of Australians suffer serious financial and complex social stresses due to the prohibitive cost of treatment,’ she said.
‘Today’s long-awaited announcement makes history for those battling eating disorders.’

Eating disorders funding Medicare

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