Supporting better quality and greater access to obstetric services

The Australian Government is making changes to Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) funded obstetric services to improve the care and mental health screening women receive during pregnancy and the postnatal period.

Page last updated: 22 August 2017

Supporting better quality and greater access to obstetric services (PDF 71 KB)

What are the changes?

Supporting the mental health of pregnant women

The Government is investing more to ensure pregnant women receive a mental health assessment during their pregnancy and in the early postnatal period. This will improve early detection of and intervention for anxiety and depression, which research suggests up to 10 per cent of pregnant women and 16 per cent of postnatal women experience.

Home visits for women who choose to give birth as a private patient

Many women who give birth as a private patient do not receive a home visit. The Government is therefore introducing a new MBS item to provide a home visit in the first few weeks after birth by a registered midwife, GP or obstetrician.

Improving the planning and management of pregnancy

The Government is increasing the rebate associated with planning and managing pregnancy for private patients by 15 per cent. This reflects the expectation that providers must be continuously available during a pregnancy, and should also conduct a mental health assessment for private patients. This will help improve early detection of anxiety and depression.

These changes will commence on 1 November 2017.

Why are these changes being made?

The changes were recommended by the MBS Review Taskforce following an extensive period of consultation.

The Taskforce is conducting a clinician-led review, which makes recommendations to the Government on how the MBS can be modernised to improve patient safety, support equity of access and reduce waste.

What does this mean for patients?

These changes will improve mental health outcomes for women, and support better quality care.

What does this mean for providers?

Some administrative changes have been made to provide clarity to providers about when certain MBS items can be claimed. The Government has also increased the schedule fee to acknowledge the increased time and complexity required to undertake certain services, for example attendances for pregnancy complications.

Further details on all the changes can be found on MBS Online website.