Bulk bill consent - Medicare changes and collecting consent FAQs Follow

To help with all media attention and discussion around Medicare and patient consent, we've collected and answered the below list of Frequently Asked Questions from practices. We hope this helps!

FAQs on Medicare: changes & collecting consent 


What's the recent change with Medicare and collecting patient consent for bulk billed appointments? 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary measure allowed practices to collect patient consent verbally. All practices had to do was note in the patient's clinical records that they had given their verbal consent.

Now, Medicare has reviewed this temporary allowance, and it's expected to change in the near future, although the exact date hasn't been determined yet. This allowance has been extended beyond its initial end date of December 31, 2022.

Once this temporary allowance ends, practices will be required to revert back to the original process of collecting and storing written patient consent for each bulk billed appointment. 

For more information, please visit Services Australia's website.

Some useful resources can be found at Changes to MBS items and Assignment of benefit.


What are the benefits of written patient consent?

Some benefits include improved clarity and documentation, which can be important for legal, auditing and ethical reasons. Written consent is also helpful for patients to fully understand the procedures or actions they are agreeing to.


Medicare has the following stance on this:

“If you can’t get patient agreement in writing or by email for telehealth services, you can get verbal agreement from your patient during the telehealth consultation.”

Referenced from Changes to MBS items on Services Australia.


What if a patient doesn't give their consent?

If a patient verbalises during your Telehealth appointment, or contacts you afterwards, to advise that they don't want to verify themselves and approve the assigning of Medicare benefits, the patient is usually responsible for paying the full cost of the appointment.


Is this change just applicable to Telehealth bulk billed appointments?

No, this change will apply to all bulk billed appointments, regardless of whether the appointment is held in person or via Telehealth.


If I’ve collected patient consent in a past appointment, do I need to collect it again?

Yes, Medicare requires the collection of patient consent for every appointment where bulk billing occurs.


Does patient consent need to be collected at the time of the appointment?

Patient consent to the Medicare assignment of benefits must be obtained after the relevant services have been provided in full.


How long do I need to keep a record of a patient’s consent for a bulk billed appointment?

Medicare recommends that practices keep a copy of all emails, claims and forms for at least 2 years. This is for auditing purposes if they are subject to a compliance review.

Referenced from Assignment of benefit signature requirements and exemptions - MBS and telehealth - Services Australia


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