Did you know there is a Medicare Safety Net?

I recently shared how you can reduce the costs of your medicines once you and your family reach the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net threshold. 

Did you know there’s also a Medicare Safety Net? Similar to the PBS Safety Net, when you spend over a certain amount on out-of-hospital medical expenses in a calendar year, you get a higher rebate from Medicare. 

If you’re part of a family or a couple, you need to register as a family to combine your costs for the Medicare Safety Net. This means you’re more likely to reach the threshold sooner to help lower your out-of-pocket medical costs. 

Keeping tally

Medicare keeps a tally of how much you’ve spent in order to determine when you’ve reached the threshold for your registered family members. If you’re single with no dependants, you don’t need to register. Reaching a safety net threshold won’t change the cost of your doctor’s visit or test. You’ll pay the same amount up-front, but you’ll get a higher Medicare rebate. 

You can keep track of how close you are to reaching the safety nets on either your Medicare account linked to your myGov record, your myGov app, or in your Express Plus Medicare app.

If you pay your doctor’s fee before you make a Medicare claim, your gap amount and out-of-pocket expenses will automatically count toward your safety net thresholds.

However, if you claim from Medicare before paying your doctor’s fee in full, those costs won’t automatically be added. In that situation, you’ll need to send Medicare your doctor’s receipt and Medicare can add the costs. You can submit a Medicare claim online using either:

You can also apply by mail or at your local service centre.

Updating your Medicare bank details

There’s currently around $200 million in unclaimed Medicare benefits and some could be yours!

Medicare payments are held by Services Australia when someone hasn’t provided bank details or the details are incorrect. The good news is that if you’re one of those people, it’s easy to make sure you’re not missing out.

You just need to ensure your current bank details are registered with Medicare.

The easiest way to update your bank details is online through your Medicare account linked to myGov. You can also use your myGov app or your Express Plus Medicare app.

Once you’ve recorded your bank details with Medicare, any refunds you’re owed will be paid to you automatically within three business days.

So be sure to check – it only takes a few minutes, and could mean some extra money comes your way. 

You can find more information by searching ‘Medicare safety nets’ and ‘Getting Medicare benefits’ on our website, servicesaustralia.gov.au.

Hank Jongen is general manager, Services Australia

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