Applying for a Medicare provider number

If you are hiring speech pathologists for your private practice or you want to start your own private practice pathology in Australia, there are some important things you should know about getting a Medicare provider number! It’s not an instantaneous process – so it pays to do your research and make sure that all of the paperwork is filled out correctly before committing. By understanding what’s required for this step, you’ll be able to provide support more effectively for clients whose sessions may be subsidised by either Medicare or private health insurance. Let’s give yourself a great headstart – here’s the low-down on applying for yours or your new hire’s very own Medicare Provider Number as a Speech Pathologist!

Already have an existing Medicare provider number?

If your new hire already has a Medicare provider number – good news! For those speech pathologists who have had a Medicare provider number at previous practices, HPOS is the way to go! They’ll get their new provider approved quickly and easily. It’s much faster than filling out forms and emailing (or faxing!). If they are no longer offering speech pathology services from the location associated with their existing Medicare provider number, advise them to close it through HPOS also.

Before You Apply

Keen to start applying for a Medicare provider number? There are some important documents they’ll need first. The speech pathologist applying for the Medicare provider number needs to also submit a copy of their Speech Pathology Australia membership certificate.  If you are the employer, you need all the pertinent info like ABN, business type, and bank details on hand so the speech pathologist can complete the form.

My top tip: As the business owner, do you envisage lots of new hires coming through this process regularly? If so, create yourself a handy template with all these bits included! That way it makes life easier for everyone down the track.

First Time Applying For A Medicare Provider Number

So you have just hired a new speech pathologist – Congratulations! Whether it’s a recent graduate or an experienced speech pathologist from a government agency, they’re going to  need to fill out the Medicare provider allied health professional form.  After completing all sections correctly, you are ready to submit the form (and your SPA membership) for processing. There are two ways in which you can achieve this: post or fax (yes, even with modern technology unfortunately they do still prefer older methods).

My top tip: Our team have been able find an easy way around this ‘faxing’ requirement – making it faster than ever before! Call Services Australia and ask for the best email address for you to send in your documentation. After you  email it, call the office the following day to check they have received it and it hasn’t accidentally landed in their SPAM.

Processing your Medicare provider number application

With so many graduates entering the medical and allied health professions each December, it’s no surprise that Services Australia can take up to 6 weeks to process Medicare provider numbers! That means if your new hire starts in January or February, you’ll need a bit of planning and a bit of patience. It’s all part of welcoming them into your team – helping them through the paperwork is an important way we can support our newest colleagues with compassion and understanding.

My top tip: Once your new hire has signed their contract, make sure to get in touch and encourage them to submit the necessary paperwork. This is a great opportunity for you too – use this time as an onboarding period! Explain all of the systems and resources available – it will really help them hit the ground running once their application has been processed.

After their application has been processed

Processing applications for Medicare provider numbers can be a lengthy process, but there are ways to get the number faster. If you submit your form and then follow up with a call after about two to four weeks time, sometimes you’ll have access to it over the phone! So rather than waiting another 10 business days for Australia Post’s letter delivery – take action now so that those accessing private health care can start claiming faster.

Adding the Medicare Provider number to HICAPS/Medipass

With a HICAPS machine or Medipass, you can make the claiming process so much easier for your clients. However, only if your Speech Pathologist has received their official confirmation of their Medicare provider number. To add them to HICAPS or Medipass, just fill out an online form and attach the letter from Medicare outlining their Provider number – it’s easy to set up and makes such a difference for hassle-free claims!

One More Thing

Keep in mind that there may be a slight delay between when Medicare assigns your provider number and other health insurance companies receive confirmation. If parents cannot process their claim with the provided Medicare provider number, stay calm! Assure them it is valid – they just need to allow time for processing before its recognized on all sides.

In Summing Up

Applying for Medicare provider numbers is a lengthy process for new team members. It can be incredibly frustrating to hear that the health insurance company doesn’t have any record of your new team member’s number. Knowing this information from the outset will help you avoid stress and makes sure your clients trust in their practitioner’s qualifications! That’s why I wanted to give you all you need to know on how to get through obtaining these provider numbers so you can provide an even better client experience moving forward.

Written by Julie Sexton, CEO and Senior Speech Pathologist at TalkHQ

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