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35 rTMS Medicare Subsidised Sessions for Eligible Adult Patients

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This is absolutely HUGE news. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a proven therapy used to treat depression. Normally it costs ~$160-$200 per session, now it will be covered by Medicare.

Full government spiel below

Prioritising Mental Health – Supporting access to new therapy for major depressive disorder

The Australian Government is investing $288.5 million to introduce a new service for Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) therapy to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) following recommendations from the independent Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

This investment will ensure Australians battling major depressive disorders who are non-responsive to antidepressant medications can access this innovative Medicare-subsidised therapy. This is part of a record $2.3 billion whole-of-government Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

rTMS is a form of localised brain stimulation therapy used to target the region of the brain involved in mood regulation and depression. It has been found to be effective in treating major depressive disorders and provides a more non-invasive option for medication resistant patients compared to the alternative – electroconvulsive therapy.

Eligible adult patients who have tried at least two different classes of antidepressant medicines but remain unwell will be able to access Medicare-subsidised rTMS therapy.

Why is this important?

Evidence shows that rTMS therapy is safe, well tolerated, and effective in treating major depressive disorders. Previously, rTMS therapy has been prohibitively expensive for Australians suffering major depressive illness. The addition of rTMS to the MBS aligns with the Australian Government’s commitment to ensure Australians are able to access affordable and safe healthcare that reflects contemporary clinical practice.

These investments are in response the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s Final Advice and the Productivity Commission's Inquiry into Mental Health.

Who will benefit?

It is estimated that in the coming 4 years, some 90,000 Australians will be eligible for MBS subsidised rTMS therapy.

They will benefit from an initial course of up to 35 rTMS treatment sessions, with one re-treatment course of up to 15 sessions if they have relapsed after responding to the initial treatment course.

How much will this cost?

The Australian Government is investing $288.5 million* over 4 years from 1 November 2021 to 2024–25.

* This investment also appears in the Guaranteeing Medicare – MBS review and new inclusions factsheet

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Comments

    • +219

      Maybe a bit more of education and empathy would be helpful for you.

      • -3

        same for you

        • We all do. :)

          • -2

            @rafiusks: Specifically you need 'a bit more of' empathy and education. You participated in a pile on for a guy saying he would like to be able to see his family and earn money to support himself. You really are disgusting.

            • @Ghos7: Which has nothing to do with this post.
              I mean, they can choose to support this treatment AND highlight the importance of opening the borders so they can see their family, earn money, etc. Instead they chose to deny other people's what they need. Who's disgusting now?

              • -2

                @ndro777: Maybe a bit more of education and empathy would be helpful for you.

            • -1

              @Ghos7: How is his issue related to what is proposed in this "offer?"

              Mental health it is not an issue from today, nor yesterday. Thousands of australians struggle EVERY SINGLE DAY, for a variety of reasons and some, even, for no reason at all (at surface level).

              To quote the Department of Health:

              nearly 1 in 2 (46%) Australians aged 16–85 had experienced a mental disorder during their lifetime

              At some point in their lives, 13.3% of Australians aged 16-85 years have experienced suicidal ideation, 4.0% have made suicide plans and 3.3% have attempted suicide (table 8-1). This is equivalent to over 2.1 million Australians having thought about taking their own life, over 600,000 making a suicide plan and over 500,000 making a suicide attempt during their lifetime.

              To some, the only thing preventing them to have a minimal quality of life it is access to treatments like this. rTMS won't make you "happy", or make you feel "less depressed", it will give a CHANCE for some to live and try to improve from there.

              If you need more information, you will find here:

              https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/mental-hea...

              • @rafiusks: cool non sequitur

              • +1

                @rafiusks: Your response was the kind of dismissive arrogance that feeds into despair. You sound like a bloody ivory tower type mate, lecturing someone on "lack of empathy" and "lack of education" for expressing an opinion, a cry for help, a No-I-Am-Not-Bloody-OK about their own mental health. Disagree with someone on their political views, but don't "play the man" with your classist little moral ad hominems.

                Depression isn't just medicine for the individual. It's also the social & economic context for the individual, which much of Western medicine has glaringly ignored. By calling someone ignorant and uncaring for trying to say "this is not my issue, and it's not a lot of people's issues", that they sound sick of people saying that's all it is for all of us, a brain imbalance with a medical fix, that it's something wrong with US", you're just piling on with that bullshit.

                I don't doubt this therapy will be enormously helpful for many. I don't doubt that high coronavirus morbidity from prematurely relaxed restrictions wouldn't improve overall social wellbeing. But your response is part of the problem mate. Do better.

      • +1

        That is not an appropriate reply to someone struggling with depression, especially given that you are attempting to take the moral high ground here on this! Please educate yourself more about how to empathise with the struggles of those different from yourself, and respect how hard and complex it is for many people right now, no matter whether or not you disagree with them personally on what they think would be the most helpful for their wellbeing.

  • +11

    This is great news!

      • +11

        The money goes back into the economy, it's not 1.2k a year on magnets, most of it will end up in wages for medical staff, health professionals. This new medicare scheme creates jobs.

        • LOL, Keynesian logic with a username including "Austria". The irony is thick

      • +8

        I suggest you do research into what TMS, it is a proven method to help treat depression. This is great news for people who suffer from depression and an alternative treatment to help those where other drugs have failed

  • +6
    • +4

      Hasn't turned the machine on yet.

      • He meant the owner of the machine, making another $200.

    • Is that a doctor or John Lithgow?

  • +12

    Unfortunately those who have already tried TMS in the past aren't eligible, regardless of how successful it was.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-14/existing-tms-patients...

  • +46

    TMS honestly changed my life, I don't think I'll benefit as someone who's already had it, but so glad they're finally doing this.

    • +10

      This is really great to hear. I'm happy for you.

      One of my bugbears is how people quickly trivialise depression and joke about it.

      It's no wonder there is such a stigma surrounding it.

    • +4

      Awesome to hear.

      Unfortunately alot of comments here are so short-sighted and selfish. Alot of people have had a rough run due to covid/lockdowns ofcourse, financial security, ability to see family friends and generally improved circumstances for our society will no doubt be how some of this group have their mental health improve. Others may have an underlying condition triggered by covid events and may one day benefit from this.

      But the most important part of this announcement is this:

      Depression is a rabid beast that impacts so many Australians either directly or via a loved one, friend, coworker etc. Its not tied to any particular source or event. The onflow of impacts it has on people's health is immeasurable, alot of people who have experienced the deepest holes of depression wouldn't wish it on their worst enemy.

      Providing an alternative, non invasive & safe, medical option to pills is so f***ing good. Antidepressants help so many, but so many people also don't get significant benefits. Depending on antidepressants can be bloody rough too, the effects of missing even 1-2 days of taking them can be horrific.

      I can't wait to give this a try personally.

    • If you don't mind me asking, how long ago did you do it, and are the effects lasting?

      • I just replied in the question below :) any other questions let me know

    • How long did the results last before you felt you needed a "booster"?

      • I go into hospital for about 48 hours every 8-10 weeks and get 5 booster sessions. Once you've had the initial once a day sessions, you can have the boosters twice a day. I've been doing this for about 18 months as a maintenance plan after my initial 30 sessions, sometimes I feel a little low a week or so before the boosters but nothing like I used to.

  • +22

    Sorry to be the devils advocate but isnt this another response to treat the symptoms and not the cause.
    I.e. reactive rather than proactive

    Although it seems to be all that the government is good at

    • +66

      Onset of Depression can come from almost anything and to be able to address all causes would be an impossible task.

      • -65

        What an inane response

        You know exactly what he’s alluding to and yet you wanna digress from it

        Whats been the major cause of mental health issues over these past two years ?

        • -1

          Inane? Allude? Wanna?

        • +1

          Just 2 years?
          The risk of illness.

          However to try and suggest the majority of depressed people are just scared of getting sick is just as inane, if not more so.

        • +25

          This isn't just for covid related depression come on

        • +3

          Growing weary of people conflating COVID-related depression with lockdown-related depression.

          The same people who say 'case numbers are low so lockdown is unnecessary', unable to realise that perhaps it's lockdown that keeps the numbers low.

          A study from the US came out a few weeks back looking at the rate of suicide among veterans during the pandemic.

          The rate actually decreased in general, but increased in those who had caught COVID. No surprise, COVID looks like hell.

          • +1

            @makeyouryear: Uh huh!
            The statistic that's not talked about enough is LONG covid, hence the suicide.

            The fact that vaccination statistics are suggesting long covid is ALMOST impossible after a jab is super promising

        • +1

          Good point. Depression didn't even exist before 2019. It was just a thing the economy did 100 years ago and a weird name doctors give to paddle pop sticks.

    • +14

      People who have illnesses probably appreciate having their symptoms treated

    • +4

      I'm sure a lot of medical professionals would love to hear your take on the cause of depression.

    • +12

      Wow who knew it was THAT simple.

      Isn't one of the problems with depression that it's a self-perpetuating issue, it's much harder to combat the causes while you are depressed, which just feeds the depression.

      If this works and alleviates the depression somewhat, giving the sufferer the ability to tackle the root causes without the added burden the depression.

      I guess you're also against taking panadol or ibuprofen for pain since they only treat the symptoms, just suck it up.

      • I was more looking at things that are causing depression, i wasn't saying that anything that cures the symptoms should not be funded.

        Yes i understand it can be a genetic thing that is inherited.
        But other causes such as:
        Drug and alcohol use.
        Environmental factors.
        Ever decreasing disposable income and prospects of owning houses/getting ahead in the world
        Social media.
        lack of physical exercise
        diet and gut health
        etc.

        Yes it's easy to say it's all well and good that the government is subsidising this (which i think is a great thing) but curing the symptoms doesn't necessarily cure the source. Which is something this government hasn't learnt.
        As soon as people start to see this as an alternative option that can magically make you happy people will start pushing their doctor to put them onto it, costing the taxpayer money in the process.

        • +1

          Well, some of those listed causative things cause permanent issue, or issues that persist even with withdrawal of the original cause. Mental health goes a long way past just feeling sad because of x

          Sometimes the source can't be treated or removed. Those people benefit from a treatment like this if it works for them.

          Talking from experience with a contact who has spent years under psychiatric/psychological care with insignificant improvement to their condition despite all current treatments

        • Hate to defend the libs but there are goverment interventions for literally every single one of the causes you listed, yet they persist.

          Consider perhaps this is a complicated issue being tackled with a similarly complicated set of interventions?

          How exactly would the government learn to as you say cure the source of environmental factors?

          I don't think after trying multiple antidepressants without success these patients will be expecting anything to 'magically make them happy'.

          Try to see the grey, and try to understand that there are people who dedicate their lives to trying to understand the complexities at play.

        • make you happy

          Depression can be a deeply debilitating disease. Being 'unhappy' is not necessarily depression. That being said, any underlying issues would be addressed simultaneously.

    • In a car accident, you can address the cause ie enforce seatbelts etc but you still need to repair the damage

    • +58

      You think treating depression isn't a lifesaving procedure?

      • -7

        Considering you would have to pay 160 for a session compared to cutbacks that may cost you 10s of thousands for surgeries then yes,
        assuming the number of ppl that can fork out 160 dollars > than the number of ppl that can afford 10s of thousands.

        • +6

          i think you're forgetting what the r in rTMS stands for.

          • -5

            @Cpt Dumpling: The r is a gimmick. No one would realistically end up doing 35 sessions and even with 35 it's still alot more affordable than what cutbacks will cost you.

            • @pompompom: Why wouldn't they? Ive seen an osteopath more than 35 times for example due to an ongoing issue.

              While im not in support of important, $$$ procedures no longer being covered its important you don't undermine the cost depression to some people. Many people have it coexist with multiple conditions which often can be cyclical, so flare-up of condition X triggers a spike in the symptoms of condition Y.

              Across medications, doctors, therapy all on an ongoing basis do add up over time. You can't compare apples and oranges, this initiative could potentially have a better return per $ on preventing deaths, quality of life or other measures, who knows.

            • +1

              @pompompom: A standard course of rTMS is 20 sessions. And it's not unusual to have a few more. How do I know this? I'm a mental health nurse and work administer TMS.

              Having said that, it doesn’t work for everybody, and it's not a one off cure/treatment. Most people have way more than 35 treatments….

  • +4

    Awesome stuff. Thanks for posting.

  • +3

    Move to the forums

    • +7

      Why? Seems perfectly fine here.

      • +5

        News announcement, not a deal

        • +21

          Something that once cost $$$ is now essentially free. That's the very definition of a deal.

          Now if it was a new treatment that had become available it would be a different story.

          • @Clear: It's not "free"! It is subsidized by every other tax payers, the provider still charges the same amount for the service they provide, if not more after this announcement…

            • +5
            • +18

              @assailantsky: So it's free for the patient.

              It's so great that we live in a country where part of our taxes are used to treat people who wouldn't be able to afford treatment otherwise.

              I'm happy my taxes can save lives.

              • -1

                @imurgod: It would be cheaper if there were no taxes being funneled through government bureaucracy and there was private charity you could donate to for this use. Also, this would avoid your hard earned funding drug addicts with places to live and money to further damage themselves with zero accountability.

            • +2

              @assailantsky: Everyone on the planet subsidizes your purchase every time you claim a free item of craptastic plastic you don't need.

              Ozbargain regularly has deals subsidized by the taxpayer, government energy rebates come to mind.

              If I were not so busy I would draw you so many hand turkeys.

            • @assailantsky: I'm happy for my tax dollar to pay for treatments that are needed for some people. Different story if people like harvey norman etc gets govt hand out.

        • How are they mutually exclusive?

    • +25

      Who would see this in the forums? Given making someone aware could possibly save a life, I say leave it here. Worth the inconvenience of an extra 1cm movement of the thumb for those not interested to scroll past. And it was something that cost out of pocket, which is now free.

      • +4

        Yep, give as many people as possible access to this information, which I for one would not see if were in the forums.

        • Happy for mods to move it to the forums but only after it's been on the front page for maximum exposure.

      • +10

        Why does this need to be seen by everyone? As long as your doctor knows this (they should and not only via OzB I hope!) and they know when to prescribe this course of treatment for a patient with depression, I don't see why it is something that needs be broadcast?

        • +16

          Maybe it will inspire someone who has already gone down the path of antidepressants and psychology without success to reach out to their dr again where they might not have if they didn’t think there was anything else the doc could offer.

          • +3

            @morse: I understand this point, and support the sentiment of everyone be more proactive in their healthcare. However, at some point I hope people still refer back to the medical advice as to the best treatment plan.

            • +1

              @assailantsky: In an ideal world yes, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me that their GP is disinterested in mental health concerns. There’s certainly some great gps, there’s others who just seem not to have the time, interest or motivation.

              • @morse: Easier to just give out a script for antidepressants and send them out the door.

        • +15

          Maybe a doc recommended it in the past and someone couldn't afford it. Now they might see this and go back to their doc. To me the potential benefit to just one person outweighs the inconvenience of a 1cm thumb swipe to others.

          The amount of rubbish deals we scroll past everyday, the one that could save someone's life is the one you have an issue with?

          • +3

            @thestig: Not sure if you ever been treated with depression, but that's not how it works with the doctor and patient, you are not treating a stomach bug or cold where one visit and a prescription is enough.

            • +9

              @assailantsky: I haven't been but I'm close to someone who has who has visited numerous docs on and off irregularly, usually when they are desperate. Unfortunately some people suffering aren't even in the mindset to continue attending regular ongoing treatment. They've had big steps forward on occasions they visit a doc and something different is offered giving them hope. You can't possibly say this would not help anyone so let it go. What is wrong with you?

              • +2

                @thestig: Why would you assume there's something wrong with me just because I have a different point of view. Please don't take what I say personally, if I offended you in someway, please know that I don't mean any offense, I'm sorry you feel that way.

    • A PHI announcing the same would be considered a deal. Why not this?