Eating disorders now assigned a MBS diagnostic category

In an Australian first, eating disorders (ED) represent the first mental health disorder to be assigned specific item numbers under the revised Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) scheme from the beginning of November.

This development has sparked an urgent call by ED experts to the Australian health workforce to upskill in the management of these complex illnesses.

Announcement of the pending MBS revisions, coinciding with World Mental Health Day today, and an article just published in MJA Insight, marks an important milestone for the million Australians living with an ED who will gain access to 40 rebated psychological therapy sessions and 20 dietetic sessions (an increase of 30 and 15 sessions, respectively).

According to MJA Insight article author and Director of InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders (IOI) Dr Sarah Maguire, Sydney, EDs are curable if a person receives the correct treatment, at the right time, with access to an appropriately trained multidisciplinary team, including, at minimum, a medical practitioner, a psychologist, and in most cases, a dietitian.

“Both national and international guidelines recommend a skilled multidisciplinary treatment approach for EDs, and access to between 40 to 50 sessions, in order to achieve satisfactory remission.”

Prior to the upcoming revision of the MBS, patients living with EDs, and all other mental health disorders, had access to just 10 rebated psychological sessions through Medicare.

“While EDs have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, of concern is that more than 70 per cent of people living with EDs do not receive treatment, and of those who do, only 20 per cent receive evidence-based treatment,” said Dr Maguire.

Under the new scheme, diagnosis by a general practitioner and mental health practitioner will be required, in recognition of the significant physical burden imposed by these psychiatric illnesses, which necessitates integrated treatment.

The Eating Disorder Working Group Report, which underpins the updated MBS, outlines the minimum training standards required by providers to achieve timely diagnosis and treatment.

To register for an IOI ED training module, join IOI’s treatment services database or to learn more about EDs, visit: www.insideoutinstitute.org.au

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