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Do you need a referral to see a podiatrist?

Do you need a referral to see a podiatrist?

Posted 28 Oct

Most specialists require a referral from a GP in order to attend a specialist. However, in most cases, this isn't required for podiatrists. At The Feet People, our trained podiatrists are able to see and treat a lot of foot problems without requiring a referral.

Why you don't always need a referral for podiatry services, some treatments do require referrals and some doctors may suggest any refer you to a podiatrist, anyway. This will most likely happen if you attend a doctor with something like foot pain or skin conditions of the feet that a doctor thinks a podiatrist will be able to treat best.

While a referral isn't necessary to visit a podiatrist, it can actually help a patient to receive cheaper treatment through various avenues. We've put together a handy guide on how podiatrists' fees can be subsidized, and whether a referral is required.

Payment Schemes

As mentioned above, there's a variety of initiatives that can help cover part, or all, of the cost of podiatry treatment. Below, we run through the options of payment and cover and advise whether a referral is necessary to receive the benefit.

Out of pocket payment

Whether you've come to have a lower limb or foot problem treated on your own accord, or you've been recommended to by a GP, if you're paying the appointment bill out of pocket - with no health care cover - then you won't require a referral.

CDM

Australia has a scheme set up called the CDM program which requires a referral from a GP. CDM stands for Chronic Disease Management and is an initiative to help patients who have had chronic conditions and have costly bills for specialists. You can read more about the CDM program here (insert link).

If you're eligible for the CDM program, you'll be allowed to claim a Medicare rebate for up to five appointments with allied health services. Podiatry is considered an allied health service and a referral is required to receive this benefit.

Private Health Insurance

If you've got private health care cover, and are looking to claim some of back from your podiatry appointment, then you might be in luck! A number of premium private health care do cover the cost of some podiatry treatments.

However, whether you're able to claim benefits will completely depend on what private health insurance company you are with, and your level of cover. However, it's important to note that you cannot claim both from your private health and a CDM program rebate from Medicare.

Workcover

If you've been injured at work, and the injury is deemed to fall under the requirements of Work Cover, then you'll have the costs of repairing and rehabbing your injury covered with worker's compensation. A referral won't be required for our podiatrists to treat your condition, however, prior approval from WorkSafe should be acquired.

Department Veterans Affairs (DVA)

Departments of Veteran's Affairs is an initiative ran by the government that assists with delivering government programs to war veterans, members of the Australian defence force, Australian Federal Police employees, and their families.

This program does assist with medical costs and those with a Veteran Gold Card or Veteran White Card may be eligible for part - or all - of their podiatrist fees to be subsidized. However, a referral will be required, and it must state the issue or condition that needs to be treated.

National Disability Scheme

The national disability scheme, otherwise known as the NDIS, is a program that helps Australians who have permanent disabilities with various types of support. One of these types of supports is medical help. At The Feet People, we are a registered provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We don't require a referral in order to treat patients under the NDIS, but we will need them to bring their NDIS number, NDIS plan and start date for our records.

Home Care Packages (My Aged Care)

Home Care Packages, otherwise known as My Aged Care, is a program that assists Australians with complex conditions that require them to be medically treated or helped at home. Usually, it applies to older people aged 65+, however, younger people with conditions like dementia or a disability may also fall under the scheme.

We are a registered provider under the My Aged Care scheme and are able to provide home visits for patients. To claim the costs of your appointment, you'll need to obtain a referral from My Aged Care prior to your appointment. You can do so by contacting them on 1800 200 422.

FAQ's

Does medicare cover general podiatry services?

Medicare generally doesn't cover podiatry services, unless you're a registered part of the CDM program, as mentioned above. There are a few exceptions to this, so it's best to contact medicare directly to confirm whether your appointment costs will be covered or subsidised. In the event you are eligible, you will be required to bring your medicare card with you.

For more information on this, read our guide on what is and isn't covered by Medicare. (internally link to medicare article)

If my scheme requires a referral, do I need to do anything different when scheduling the appointment at The Feet People?

The process of making an appointment at The Feet People is very simple. You can either call or email us and our friendly staff will set up an appointment for you and you'll be on your way to healthy feet!

If you are making an appointment under one of the above schemes, that's not out of pocket or private health care cover, please be sure to mention it when making the appointment. That way our staff will be able to inform you what paperwork your GP or medical organisation will need to send prior to your appointment.

Even if I don't require a referral, is it better to visit a GP before I see a podiatrist?

This is entirely a personal choice. However, podiatrists are experts in treating conditions related to the lower limbs and feet. If you're not sure what you're problem is, but feel discomfort or pain, it's a good idea to see a podiatrist who can conduct a comprehensive assessment of your issue - and a biomechanical assessment if necessary, and then they'll be able to work out a treatment plan for your specific problem.




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