Exercise Physiologists’ Services Covered Under Medicare

Exercise PhysiologyYou probably know that the Australian Medicare system is wide ranging in covering the medical expenses of General Practitioner (GP) visits, public hospital stays, specialist medical appointments, annual eye tests, and many other important life-saving medical services.  But did you know that you can use your Medicare card to contribute to the specialist exercise services of a qualified Exercise Physiologist?

This initiative by the Australian Federal Government aims to address the pressing need within our community of treating chronic medical conditions with exercise and lifestyle modification programs.   As one of the first public health care systems in the world to support exercise-based treatment plans, the role of an Exercise Physiologist in the management, treatment, and prevention of chronic diseases in Australia is well-established and recognised.

Am I eligible?

The Medicare system provides assistance for sufferers of a medical condition under the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) scheme, giving access to the specialist services of an Exercise Physiologist.  There are numerous medical conditions covered under the scheme that are eligible to be supported by specialised exercise and lifestyle modification programs, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
According to the Department of Health and Ageing, eligible patients must have a chronic medical condition which is being managed by a GP under strategies known as GP Management Plans and Team Care Arrangements.  These strategies allow most patients to be referred by their GP to a qualified Exercise Physiologist.

The following article was recently published in the Herald Sun (September 2011), and provides further information regarding the place of Exercise Physiology in Medicare’s CDM scheme. In particular, “Your doctor may send you to an exercise physiologist if he wants you to increase your physical activity and there may be some risks involved.  These may include diabetes, heart problems or stroke [risks],” says Dr Ronald McCoy, of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

10 Things You Can Claim on Medicare

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 Take home messages

  • Correctly-prescribed exercise has an important role in the long-term management of many chronic health conditions and diseases, including (but not limited to) asthma, depression, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.  The application of exercise as treatment is widely recommended in the scientific and medical communities, and supported by government funding through Medicare.
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions are eligible for Medicare rebates from Exercise Physiology services, when their condition is being managed by a GP under strategies known as GP Management Plans and Team Care Arrangements.  As a part of these strategies, your GP can refer you to a qualified Exercise Physiologist to complement your overall health treatment and management plan.