Latest news | 31 Oct 2019

Medicare for eating disorders goes LIVE 1 November


Medicare for eating disorders goes LIVE 1 November 

(Sydney) 31 October 2019 –

People with eating disorders including anorexia nervosa will soon be able to access new Medicare services to help manage these complex conditions.

The Butterfly Foundation has been working with the Commonwealth Department of Health and other stakeholders to help inform the development of Medicare items and their inclusion on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 November.

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said that this was a critical time in the landscape of eating disorders. “These new item numbers will mean many more people with these serious mental illnesses will be able to access the help they need,” he said. “We know that, with the right intervention and support, full recovery is possible, and many more people will soon be able to access critical treatment.”

These new items were recommended in early 2018 by the independent clinical-led MBS Review Taskforce after representations from the Butterfly Foundation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in December 2018 the Government would make the items available from 1 November, enabling the tens of thousands of Australians with severe eating disorders to access a comprehensive treatment plan under Medicare.

The Butterfly Foundation is delighted to confirm new Medicare items will be available to support a model of evidence-based care for individuals who are eligible. Under the new items, depending on their treatment needs, they will be able to receive a Medicare rebate for:

• the development of an eating disorders plan by a medical practitioner (including a GP, a consultant psychiatrist or paediatrician);
• regular GP reviews of their progress against the treatment plan;
• a formal specialist review by a consultant psychiatrist or paediatrician;
• up to 40 sessions of evidence-based eating disorder psychological treatment (in a 12month period) with an allied mental health professional; and
• up to 20 dietetic services for either face-to-face services and telehealth consultations with a dietitian (in a 12-month period).

The items accord with the National Standards for the safe treatment of eating disorders (NEDC, 2012), that specify a multi-disciplinary treatment approach that provides coordinated psychological, physical, behavioural, nutritional and functional care to address all aspects of eating disorders. “People with eating disorders require integrated inter-professional treatment that is able to work within a framework of shared goals, care plans and client and family information,” said Kevin Barrow.

“Butterfly has worked hard for many years to highlight the significant costs of treatment for an eating disorder, and in 2015 released the Investing in Need report by Deloitte Access Economics which demonstrated the socio-economic impact of eating disorders as one of the most severe and enduring in Australia. Their inclusion in the Medicare Benefits Scheme is a much-needed reform,” he said.

Kim Coffey, mother of three daughters who have experienced an eating disorder, welcomes the upcoming Medicare items. “Having lived with eating disorders in our home for more than ten years, we know too well the prohibitive costs involved with treatment. We have spent so much money on psychologists, nutritionists and other health professionals just trying to get our daughters well and are still battling this illness with our youngest daughter, so costs are ongoing.

“Family holidays and other luxuries have fallen by the wayside. We at least had the option to afford treatment, where many just don’t,” Kim said. “Being able to access treatment through Medicare will make an enormous difference to those of us going through these insidious mental illnesses.”

The MBS services will be provided by practitioners with the knowledge, skills and experience in providing treatment to patients with eating disorders, and meet the national workforce competency standards for the treatment and management of eating disorders as recently released by the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC).

Further information about these items will be made available shortly. Patients who do not fit the eligibility criteria for the MBS Eating Disorders Treatment Pathway may be eligible for treatment under the Better Access to Mental Health treatment pathway.


Media Contact: Frank Coletta
Mob: 0468 987 295

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues should contact Butterfly’s National Helpline 1800 ED HOPE on 1800 33 4673 or For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14