Social distancing is the new normal, but the government’s coronavirus measures have left many confused about what, exactly, is considered an essential business. The good news is that many health care services are still open and accessible.
“Aussies should refer to guides on the Department of Health website, visit their regular health professional’s website or speak to their health funds to find out whether the service they need is still operating normally,” Compare the Market health expert Anthony Fleming said. “There are guidelines in place for health services to minimise the risk of Covid-19 presenting at their clinics, and Aussies should feel reassured that many providers are implementing these and their own measures.”
With the help of comparison website Compare the Market we’ve rounded up what’s happening with different health care services, from doctor consultations to dental care and optometry, so you know what your options are.
It’s important to know that practices are still operating and are there to help if you have health concerns. For those who aren’t comfortable venturing out in public, or are unable to go, they can access telehealth appointments which are covered by Medicare. According to Compare the Market, the government has temporarily added a number of bulk-billing items to help medical professionals deliver telehealth services.
Australians are allowed to leave home to get prescriptions, but those in the community who are ill or are at higher risk of contracting coronavirus may need alternative options. The Home Medicines Service covers the costs of delivery for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medicines.
In addition, online pharmacies like Chemist Warehouse and Pharmacy Direct offer delivery services through their websites. According to Compare the Market, the government is also fast-tracking the implementation of electronic prescriptions to be ready in the next two months.
The good news is dental treatments have been moved back to level 2 restrictions, which means dentists can now offer a broadened range of treatments, such as examinations, fillings and hand scaling. Health funds have also confirmed they will continue to provide cover for emergency dental services, such as a root canal, during this time.
Physiotherapy clinics are still open for regular in-clinic appointments, but for those who are unable to go, some clinics are offering services ranging from home visits and telehealth consultations to sending rehabilitation equipment to patients to complete their programs.
If you have an annual eye exam coming up it may be worth calling ahead. According to Compare the Market, some optometry clinics have chosen to close completely, while others remain open but have introduced new preventative measures. For example, Specsavers are open on an appointment-only basis but are asking all non-urgent patients to reschedule. For those who don’t require emergency care, some service providers such as VisionDirect are offering online eye tests.
Chiropractors have been deemed essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic so you’ll find most clinics are still operating. Similar to physiotherapy clinics some chiropractors are also offering telehealth appointments.
Aussies can still access psychology services through telehealth services. In addition, insurance companies like Australian Unity and nib are each offering a six-week phone-based program for mental health support called MindStep. People can also use apps such as Black Dog Snapshot, developed by mental health researcher the Black Dog Institute, which allows users to log their mental wellbeing each day.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.
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