Are you missing out on a life-changing Medicare service? 53



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A new report has found that millions of Australians are missing out on a health service that could dramatically improve our lives, especially those of us who are living with chronic disease.

Independent advisory practice Deloitte Access Economics in conjunction with Exercise & Sports Science Australia released a research paper showing that only 1 per cent of patients eligible for free exercise physiology sessions are being referred.

These sessions are Medicare funded and provide support for clients with conditions such as cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, diabetes, osteoporosis, mental health problems, cancer, arthritis, pulmonary disease and more. 

Exercise physiologists assess you movement capacity and prescribe appropriate exercise therapy, which the paper shows can improve people’s health, stave off more serious conditions and save the government thousands of dollars per patient.

ESSA Chief Executive Officer, Anita Hobson-Powell, said while almost 50 per cent of Australians are living with some form of chronic disease such as diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease, and as many as 13 million Australians are at risk of chronic disease, very few were referred to an exercise physiologist.

“At present, eligible patients are entitled to access specialised exercise interventions from an accredited exercise physiologist that are subsidised by the Australian government through the Medicare Benefits Schedule annually. However, it is apparent these service offerings are being largely overlooked, which can be of detriment to patient care and the broader economy,” Ms Hobson-Powell said.

  • An accredited exercise physiologist can help you  
  • overcome persisting pain caused by injury or overuse;
  • improve your heart health;
  • get back on your feet after a cardiac event;
  • control your diabetes;
  • prevent pre-diabetes from progressing to full diabetes;
  • improve your recovery following cancer treatment; and/or
  • improve your general health and wellbeing.

If you are suffering any long-term health issues, be sure to ask your doctor for a referral to an exercise physiologist to make the most of this potentially life-changing health service.

Were you aware of this service? Could it be of help to you? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I have no doubt that chronic disease can contribute to depression, like many older people here I live with pain, somehow we adapt , but it is hard to see others doing things that you used to do but can’t now, and it is hard coping after sleepless nights because of pain, if you feel depressed get help. It won’t cure your illness but it will give give peace of mind

    4 REPLY
    • I agree Libbi 100%, chronic pain can destroy your life due to lack of sleep and being unable to participate in the things you once loved, which unfortunately does lead to depression, I try to keep doing as much as I can although some activities you have to adapt to work around the pain but just keep going.

    • Thanks Libbi but I’m definitely no hero, I just value the things important to me and therefore make myself do as much as I can, which gives me a reason to get up each morning.

    • Well said Libby. So frustrating when you can’t do the things that you once could without pain

  2. I have had treatment by a physiologist whom i was referred to by my doctor. You get five free sessions a year. Since seeing him i have learned how to use weights to my advantage and with chronic bronchitis it is so important to get your upper body muscles working to the best of their capability. Whilst these lung diseases cant be cured they can be managed and my health overall has been much better since my visits to the physiologist and i continue to use what he taught me.☺

    2 REPLY
    • I had bronchitis last year it led to pneumonia, I don’t know how you cope with getting it regularly, I am glad you are getting some help, all chronic disease is hard but being able to breath is a basic thing, you take good care of yourself Fran.

    • Thank you Libbi. Breathing is difficult with any exertion but i am lucky that I could have it a lot worse. I do everything to make sure i dont as i have to live with this every day. Just keep fit people and away from cigarettes.

  3. I appreciate this information. I have taken notes and will check with my GP very soon.
    I’m wondering if all Drs know of this service, as I certainly fit the bill & it hasn’t been offered to me.

    4 REPLY
    • All doctors know about it Christine. I have found that you need to ask constantly if there is anything else you can do to help your illness. I also follow up on health tips from this site and google my condition regularly to see if anything new has been developed. That is how i found a new inhaler. It has improved my oxygen levels. My doctor knew about it but thought it was probably no better than what i was using. I insisted on trying it and it worked for me.

    • Thankyou Fran, I will ask exactly that, “is there anything else you can do to help my condition”.
      That’s a really good question. Why didn’t I think of that, lol
      I have been offered other help for Osteo, but not this which I clearly need and long for.
      I do have a great Neurologist for another condition who is very good, but now, I may even ask her the same question. Many thanks.

  4. I’d never heard of this. Thankyou for the information. I’ll see if this service is available anywhere near.

  5. Not many people know but you can get 9 free visits to a physiologist if you’re a Diabetic. That’s as well as the EPC. Even doctors don’t know! I found out at Kawana Sports Care. They are great there.

  6. For those with chronic disease, to access allied health services you must have a gp management plan and team care arrangement completed which then allows you 5 free allied health visits through enhanced primary care/ EPC. i do these assessments and in qld it is 5 visits per year

    3 REPLY
    • My understanding is that you can get 5 referrals for 2 providers in a calander year. These are not free, but you get the Medicare rebate back, about $53.

    • My understanding is you get a total of 5 free allied health visits in a calendar year. These can either be with 1 allied health service or divided between other allied health services. As long as the total is no more than 5 per year and you are elligible under chronic disease management ……

  7. I found out about the EPC through my Osteopath. It wasn’t free but it helped with the cost. The refund from Medicare was more than my private health fund for only 5 sessions a year. It didn’t take long to use up.

  8. Where are they? Bet they,re not abundant especially in rural area! Never heard of them although i.m aware of the diaebetes educators, physios etc through the care plans. Thanks for the info!

  9. I have been in a supervised gym program now for several months. I feel like a new person and have met a lovely group of people, with whom I exercise 3 times a week. Medicare subsidised parts of the program and my health fund other parts. I am 65 and have arthritis and am strengthening my legs before a knee replacement.

    3 REPLY
    • Good luck with that knee Aud. they want to do my other one also but not prepared to go through it again. Stay strong

    • Wll do both together if I can. Get it over with. Have friends who have done that and were happy. Thanks.

    • Yes, good luck with it. I have had one knee replacement. My other knee is fine. My cousin had two knee replacements. I think they were done about a week apart. She is very happy with the outcome.

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