The Department of Human Services is responsible for the development of service delivery policy and provides access to social, health and other payments and services. It was created on 26 October 2004 as part of the Finance and Administration portfolio. The Human Services Legislation Amendment Act 2011 integrated the services of Medicare Australia, Centrelink and CRS Australia on 1 July 2011 into the Department of Human Services.
The department offers a range of health, social and welfare payments and services through the:
- Medicare program which looks after the health of Australians through the efficient delivery of programs such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register and the Australian Organ Donor Register.
- Centrelink program which delivers a range of payments and services for retirees, the unemployed, families, carers, parents, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians, and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and provides services at times of major change.
- Child Support program which provides support to separated parents to provide the financial and emotional support necessary for their children’s wellbeing.
In addition to the above services provided directly by the Department, DHS also works closely with Australian Hearing, one of the largest hearing service providers in the world. Australian Hearing is dedicated to helping people manage their hearing impairment so they have a better quality of life. Australian Hearing provides a full range of hearing services for children and young people up to the age of 21, eligible adults and aged pensioners, and most war veterans. For more information visit www.hearing.com.au
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Department of Human Services - Education Services for Health Professionals
DHS has developed education resources to help health professionals and practice staff to understand their health programs and do businesswith them. eLearning programs are available and provide easy to use, interactive and self-paced learning for busy health professionals. Education guides provide clarity on complex areas of health programs and education on new initiatives. For more information go to: .
Department of Human Services Forms
A list of all Department of Human Services forms for Health Professionals is available on this website. Forms are listed alphabetically and by code. There is also a basic search option to select the form you require.
Assignment of Medicare Benefit Form
AAPM has received a number of queries about the approved form, which must be signed by a bulkbilled patient to assign Medicare Benefits to the healthcare provider under Section 20A of the Health Insurance Act.
These forms are located on the DHS website under "Forms for Health Professionals":
Additional Charges for Consumables
In the Medicare Benefits Schedule Under section G.7.1. Billing Procedures, there is a section on Bulk Billing that clarifies whether a practitioner can bulk bill a service and then add an additional charge for consumables, as follows:
G.7.1. BILLING PROCEDURES
Under the Health Insurance Act 1973, a bulk billing facility for professional services is available to all persons in Australia who are eligible for a benefit under the Medicare program. If a practitioner bulk bills for a service the practitioner undertakes to accept the relevant Medicare benefit as full payment for the service. Additional charges for that service cannot be raised. This includes but is not limited to:
- any consumables that would be reasonably necessary to perform the service, including bandages and/or dressings;
- record keeping fees;
- a booking fee to be paid before each service, or;
- an annual administration or registration fee.
Where the patient is bulk billed, an additional charge can only be raised against the patient by the practitioner where the patient is provided with a vaccine or vaccines from the practitioner's own supply held on the practitioner's premises. This exemption only applies to general practitioners and other non-specialist practitioners in association with attendance items 3 to 96 and 5000 to 5267 (inclusive) and only relates to vaccines that are not available to the patient free of charge through Commonwealth or State funding arrangements or available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The additional charge must only be to cover the supply of the vaccine.
Where a practitioner provides a number of services on the one occasion and claims multiple Medicare items, the practitioner can choose to bulk bill some or all of those services. Where some but not all of the services are bulk billed a fee may be privately charged for the other service (or services) in excess of the Medicare rebate provided that that fee is only in relation to that service (or services).
It should be noted that, where a service is not bulk billed, a practitioner may privately raise an additional charge against a patient, such as for a consumable. An additional charge can also be raised where a practitioner does not bulk bill a patient but instead charges a fee that is equal to the rebate for the Medicare service. For example, where a practitioner provides a professional service to which item 23 relates the practitioner could, in place of bulk billing the patient, charge the rebate for the service and then also raise an additional charge (such as for a consumable).
If there are additional questions from members on this topic, they recommend contacting the Department of Human Services Medicare Provider Enquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 132150 as they will be able to provide a more detailed response.