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Category 1 - PROFESSIONAL ATTENDANCES
10916 - Additional Information
BRIEF INITIAL CONSULTATION
Professional attendance, being the first in a course of attention, of not more than 15 minutes duration, not being a service associated with a service to which item 10931, 10932, 10933, 10940, 10941, 10942 or 10943 applies
Fee: $35.35 Benefit: 85% = $30.05
(See para AN.10.1 of explanatory notes to this Category)
Category 1 - PROFESSIONAL ATTENDANCES
Schedule Fees and Medicare Benefits
Medicare benefits are based on fees determined for each optometrical service. The services provided by participating optometrists which attract benefits are set out in the Health Insurance (General Medical Services Table) Regulations (as amended).
If the fee is greater than the Medicare benefit, optometrists participating in the scheme are to inform the patient of the Medicare benefit payable for the item, at the time of the consultation and that the additional fee will not attract benefits.
Medicare benefits are payable at 85% of the Schedule fee for services rendered.
Medicare Safety Nets
The Medicare safety net provides families and singles with an additional rebate for out-of-hospital Medicare services, once annual thresholds are reached. There are two safety nets: the original Medicare safety net and the extended Medicare safety net (EMSN).
Under the original Medicare safety net, the Medicare benefit for out-of-hospital services is increased to 100% of the Schedule Fee (up from 85%) once an annual threshold in gap costs is reached. Gap costs refer to the difference between the Medicare benefit (85%) and the Schedule Fee.
Under the EMSN, once an annual threshold in out-of-pocket costs for out-of-hospital Medicare services is reached, Medicare will pay for 80% of any future out-of-pocket costs for out-of-hospital Medicare services for the remainder of the calendar year. However, where the item has an EMSN benefit cap, there is a maximum limit on the EMSN benefit that will be paid for that item. Further explanation about EMSN benefit caps is provided at www.mbsonline.gov.au.
The thresholds for the Medicare safety nets are indexed on 1 January each year.
Individuals are automatically registered with the Department of Human Services for the safety nets, however couples and families are required to register in order to be recognised as a family for the purposes of the safety nets. In most cases, registered families have their expenses combined to reach the safety net thresholds. This may help to qualify for safety net benefits more quickly. Registration forms can be obtained from the Department of Human Services offices, or completed at www.humanservices.gov.au. If you have already registered it is important to ensure your details are up to date.
Further information on the Medicare safety nets is available at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/medicare-safety-net.
Limiting rule for patient claims
Where a fee charged for a service is less than the Medicare benefit, the benefit will be reduced to the amount of the fee actually charged. In no case will the benefit payable exceed the fee charged.
Payment of benefit may be made for several attendances on a patient on the same day by the same optometrist provided that the subsequent attendances are not a continuation of the initial or earlier attendances. However, there should be a reasonable lapse of time between the services before they can be regarded as separate attendances.
Where two or more attendances are made on the one day by the same optometrist the time of each attendance should be stated on the account (e.g. 10.30 am and 3.15 pm) in order to assist in the payment of benefits. Times do not need to be specified where a perimetry item is performed in association with a consultation item.
In some circumstances a subsequent consultation on the same day may be judged to be a continuation of an earlier attendance and a second benefit is not payable. For example, a preliminary eye examination may be concluded with the instillation of mydriatic or cycloplegic drops and some time later additional examination procedures are undertaken. These sessions are regarded as being one attendance for benefit purposes.
Release of prescription
Where a spectacle prescription is prepared for the patient, it becomes the property of the patient, who is free to have the spectacles dispensed by any person of the patient's choice. The optometrist will ensure that the patient is made aware that he or she is entitled to a copy of the spectacle prescription.
Contact lens prescriptions are excluded from the above provision, although the prescription remains the property of the patient and should be available to the patient at the completion of the prescription and fitting process.
The optometrist will ensure that any notice sent to a patient suggesting re-examination is sent solely on the basis of the clinical needs of the patient.
Aftercare period following surgery
Medicare schedule items that apply to surgery include all professional attendances necessary for the post-operative treatment of the patient, other than attendances provided by vocationally or non-vocationally trained general practitioners. The aftercare period includes all post-operative treatment, when provided by a medical specialist, consultant physician or optometrist. The amount and duration of the aftercare may vary but includes all attendances until recovery from the operation. Attendances unrelated to the operation provided by a vocationally or non-vocationally registered general practitioner in the aftercare period can also attract Medicare benefits. Attendances provided by an optometrist in the aftercare period do not attract a Medicare benefit.
The rebate for cataract surgery includes payment for aftercare attendances so payment for aftercare services provided by an optometrist on behalf of a surgeon should be arranged with the surgeon. The optometrist should not charge the patient. In the case of cataract surgery, the first visit following surgery for which the optometrist can charge a rebatable fee is generally the attendance at which a prescription for spectacles or contact lenses is written.
Medicare benefits are not available for refractive surgery, consultations in preparation for the surgery or consultations in the aftercare period. Charges for attendances by optometrists may be made directly to the patient or to the surgeon depending on the arrangements made prior to surgery. Accounts and the receipt issued to the patient should clearly indicate the fee is non-rebatable.
Single Course of Attention
A reference to a single course of attention means:
(a) In the case of items 10905 to 10918, and old item 10900 - a course of attention by one or more optometrists in relation to a specific episode of optometric care.
(b) In relation to items 10921 to 10930 - a course of attention, including all associated attendances, by one or more optometrists for the purpose of prescribing and fitting of contact lenses. This includes those after-care visits necessary to ensure the satisfactory performance of the lenses.
Referred comprehensive initial consultations (item 10905) - Read in conjunction with 08 Referrals
For the purposes of item 10905, the referring optometrist, having considered the patient's need for the referred consultation, is required to provide a written referral, dated and signed, and setting out the patient's condition and the reason for the referral.
Benefits will be paid at the level of item 10905 providing the referral is received before the provision of the service, and providing the account, receipt or bulk-billing form contains the name and provider number of the referring optometrist. Referrals from medical practitioners do not attract benefits under item 10905.
The optometrist claiming the item 10905 service is obliged to retain the written referral for a period of twenty-four months.
Referrals must be at "arms length". That is to say, no commercial arrangements or connections should exist between the optometrists.
Second comprehensive initial consultation, within 36 months for a patient who is less than 65 years of age and once every 12 months for a patient who is at least 65 years of age, of a previous comprehensive consultation (item 10907)
A patient can receive a comprehensive initial consultation by another optometrist within 36 months if the patient is less than 65 years of age, and once every 12 months if the patient is at least 65 years of age, if the patient has attended another optometrist for an attendance to which item 10905, 10907, 10910, 10911, 10912, 10913, 10914 or 10915 applies, or old item 10900 applied.
Comprehensive initial consultations (items 10910 and 10911)
There are two new MBS items for comprehensive initial consultation that have been introduced. Item 10910 has been introduced for a professional attendance of more than 15 minutes for a patient who is less than 65 years of age. This item is payable once only within a 36 month period, and if the patient has not received a service in this timeframe to which item 10905, 10907, 10910, 10912, 10913, 10914 or 10915 applies, or old item 10900 applied.
Item 10911 has been introduced for a professional attendance of more than 15 minutes for a patient who is at least 65 years of age. This item is payable once only within a 12 month period, and if the patient has not received a service in this timeframe to which item 10905, 10907, 10910, 10911, 10912, 10913, 10914 or 10915 applies, or old item 10900 applied.
However, a benefit is payable under item 10912, 10913, 10914 or 10915 where the patient has an ocular condition which necessitates a further course of attention being started within 36 months for a patient who is less than 65 years of age (item 10910) and within 12 months for a patient who is at least 65 years of age (item 10911) of the previous initial consultation. The conditions which qualify for a further course of attention are contained in the descriptions of these items.
Where an attendance would have been covered by item 10905, 10907, 10910, 10911, 10912, 10913, 10914, or 10915 but is of 15 minutes duration or less, item 10916 (Short consultation) applies.
Significant change in visual function requiring comprehensive re-evaluation (item 10912)
Significant changes in visual function which justify the charging of item 10912 could include documented changes of:
· vision or visual acuity of 2 lines (0.2 logMAR) or more (corrected or uncorrected)
· visual fields or previously undetected field loss
· binocular vision
· contrast sensitivity or previously undetected contrast sensitivity loss.
New signs or symptoms requiring comprehensive re-evaluation (item 10913)
When charging item 10913 the optometrist should document the new signs or symptoms suffered by the patient on the patient's record card.
Progressive disorder requiring comprehensive re-evaluation (item 10914)
When charging item 10914, the optometrist should document the nature of the progressive disorder suffered by the patient on the patient's record card. Progressive disorders may include conditions such as maculopathy (including age related maculopathy) cataract, corneal dystrophies, glaucoma etc.
Examination of the eyes of a patient with diabetes mellitus (item 10915)
Where an examination of the eyes, with the instillation of a mydriatic, of a patient with diabetes mellitus is being conducted, where possible this item should be billed rather than item 10914 to assist in identifying whether such patients are receiving appropriate eye care.
Second or subsequent consultations (item 10918)
Each consultation, apart from the initial consultation, in a single course of attention, other than a course of attention involving the fitting and prescription of contact lenses, is covered by item 10918.
Contact lens consultations (items 10921 to 10930)
In the case of contact lens consultations, benefit is payable only where the patient is one of the prescribed classes of patient entitled to benefit for contact lens consultations as described in items 10921 to 10929.
For claims under items 10921,10922,10923,10925 and 10930, eligibility is based on the patient's distance spectacle prescription, determining the spherical equivalent by adding to the spherical prescription, half the cylindrical correction.
Medicare benefits are not payable for item 10929 in circumstances where a patient wants contact lenses for:
(a) reasons of appearance (because they do not want to wear spectacles);
(b) sporting purposes;
(c) work purposes; or
(d) psychological reasons (because they cannot cope with spectacles).
All attendances subsequent to the initial consultation in a course of attention involving the prescription and fitting of contact lenses are collectively regarded as a single service under items 10921 to 10930, as appropriate. The date of service is deemed to be the date on which the contact lenses are delivered to the patient. In some cases, where the patient decides not to proceed with contact lenses, no Medicare fee is payable because the patient has not taken delivery of the lenses. In such instances, the patient may be charged a non-rebatable (private) fee for a 'part' service. Any visits related to the prescribing and fitting of lenses are regarded to be covered by the relevant item in the range 10921 to 10930. The bulk item includes those aftercare visits necessary to ensure the satisfactory performance of the lenses. This interpretation is unaltered by the frequency of aftercare visits associated with various lens types including extended wear lenses.
Consultations during the aftercare period that are unrelated to the prescription and fitting of contact lenses or that are not part of normal aftercare may be billed under other appropriate items (not items 10921 to 10930).
For patients not eligible for Medicare rebates for contact lens care, fees charged for contact lens consultations are a matter between the practitioner and the patient. Any account for consultations involving the fitting and prescription of contact lenses issued to a patient who does not fall into the specified categories should be prepared in such a way that it cannot be used to obtain benefits. No Medicare item should be attached to any service that does not attract benefits and the optometrist should annotate the account with wording such as "Medicare benefits not payable".
Where an optometrist wishes to apportion the total fee to show the appropriate optometric consultation benefit and the balance of the fee, he or she should ensure that the balance is described in such a way (e.g. balance of account) that it cannot be mistaken as being a separate consultation. In particular no Medicare item number should be shown against the balance.
When a patient receives a course of attention involving the prescription and fitting of contact lenses an account should not be issued (or an assignment form completed) until the date on which the patient takes delivery of the lenses.
Benefit under items 10921 to 10929 is payable once only in any period of 36 consecutive months except where circumstances are met under item 10930 within a 36 month period.
Domiciliary visits (items 10931 - 10933)
Where patients are unable to travel to an optometrist's practice for treatment, and where the request for treatment is initiated by the patient, a domiciliary visit may be conducted, which involves the optometrist travelling to the patient's place of residence, and transporting the necessary equipment. Where possible, it is preferable that the patient travel to the practice so that the full range of equipment is available for the examination of the patient.
Benefits are payable under items 10931 - 10933 to provide some financial assistance in the form of a loading to the optometrist, in recompense for travel costs and packing and unpacking of equipment. The loading is in addition to the consultation item. For the purposes of the loading, acceptable places of residence for domiciliary visits are:
- the patient's home;
- a residential aged care facility as defined by the Aged Care Act 1997; or
- an institution which means a place (other than a residential aged care facility or hospital) at which residential accommodation and/or day care is made available to any of the following categories: disadvantaged children, juvenile offenders, aged persons, chronically ill psychiatric patients, homeless persons, unemployed persons, persons suffering from alcoholism, persons addicted to drugs, or physically or intellectually disabled persons.
Visits to a hospital at the patient's request are not covered by the loading and instead, an extra fee in addition to the Schedule fee can be charged, providing the service is not bulk-billed. Medicare benefits are not payable in respect of the private charge.
Items 10931 - 10933 may be used whether or not the optometrist chooses to bulk-bill but it is important that if the consultation is bulk-billed the loading is also, and no private charge can then be levied. If the consultation is not bulk-billed, the loading should also not be bulk-billed and a private charge may be levied. The usual requirement that the patient must have requested the domiciliary visit applies.
Domiciliary visit loading items cannot be claimed in conjunction with brief initial consultation item 10916, or with computerised perimetry items 10940 or 10941. The choice of appropriate item in the range 10931 - 10933 depends on how many patients are seen at the one location. Benefits are payable under item 10931 where the optometrist travels to see one patient at a single location. Item 10931 can be billed in addition to the appropriate consultation item (excluding items 10916, 10932, 10933, 10940 or 10941). If the optometrist goes on to see another single patient at a different location, that patient can also be billed an item 10931 plus the appropriate consultation. However, if two patients are visited at a single location on the same occasion, each of the two patients should be billed item 10932 as well as the appropriate consultation item applying to each patient. Similarly, if three patients are visited at a single location on the same occasion, each of the three patients should be billed item 10933 as well as the appropriate consultation item applying to each patient.
Where more than three patients are seen at the same location, additional benefits for domiciliary visits are not payable for the fourth, fifth etc patients. On such occasions, the first three patients should be billed item 10933 as well as the appropriate consultation item, and all subsequent patients may only be billed the appropriate consultation item. Where multiple patients are seen at one location on one occasion, there is no provision for patients to be 'grouped' into twos and threes for billing purposes.
Where a private charge is levied for a domiciliary visit, bulk-billing is precluded. Medicare benefits are not payable in respect of the private charge and the patient should be informed of this. Private charges should be shown separately on accounts issued by optometrists and must not be included in the fees for the service.
Computerised Perimetry Services (items 10940 and 10941)
Benefit under items 10940 and 10941 is payable where full quantitative computerised perimetry (automated absolute static threshold but not including multifocal multichannel objective perimetry) has been performed by an optometrist on both eyes (item 10940) or one eye (item 10941) where indicated by the presence of relevant ocular disease or suspected pathology of the visual pathways or brain. Item 10940 for bilateral procedures cannot be claimed for patients who are totally blind in one eye. In this instance, item 10941 for unilateral procedures should be claimed, where appropriate.
These items can be billed either in association with comprehensive consultation items 10905, 10907, 10910, 10911, 10912, 10913, 10914, or 10915, or independently, but they cannot be billed with items 10916, 10918, 10931, 10932 or 10933. An assessment and report is required and, where referral to an ophthalmologist for further treatment is required, the printed results of the perimetry should be provided to the ophthalmologist to discourage repetition of perimetry unless clinically necessary. If Medicare benefits are to be claimed, a maximum of two perimetry services in any twelve month period may be provided.
Low Vision Assessment (item 10942)
A benefit is payable under item 10942 where one or more of the tests outlined in the item description are carried out on a patient who has already been established during a comprehensive consultation as having low vision, as specifically defined in the item. This item is not intended for patients expected to undergo cataract surgery in the near future who may temporarily meet the criteria for having low vision.
Item 10942 may be claimed on the same day as either a comprehensive initial consultation (items 10905 - 10915) or a subsequent consultation (item 10918), but only where the additional low vision testing has been carried out on an eligible patient. Item 10942 is not intended to be claimed with a brief initial consultation (item 10916), or with any of the contact lens items (items 10921-10930).
Children's vision assessment (item 10943)
Children aged 0 to 2 years, and 15 years and over, are not eligible for item 10943 and may be treated under appropriate attendance items.
A benefit is payable under item 10943 where one or more of the assessment and testing procedures outlined in the item description are carried out on a patient aged 3 - 14 years inclusive, and where a finding of significant binocular or accommodative dysfunction is the outcome of the consultation and assessment/testing. The conditions to be assessed under this item are primarily amblyopia and strabismus, but dysfunctions relating to vergences are also covered, providing well established and evidence based optometry practice is observed.
A benefit is not payable under item 10943 for the assessment of learning difficulties or learning disabilities.
Item 10943 may be claimed on the same day as either a comprehensive consultation (items 10905 - 10915) or a subsequent consultation (item 10918), but only where the additional assessment/testing has been carried out on an eligible child. Item 10943 is not intended to be claimed with a brief initial consultation (item 10916), or with any of the contact lens items (items 10921-10930).
Removal of an embedded corneal foreign body (item 10944)
Item 10944 has been introduced for the complete removal of an embedded corneal foreign body that is sub-epithelial or intra-epithelial and the removal of rust rings from the cornea.
The removal of an embedded foreign body should be performed using a hypodermic needle, foreign body gouge or similar surgical instrument, with magnification provided by a slit lamp biomicroscope, loupe or similar device.
The optometrist should document the nature of the embedded foreign body (sub-epithelial or intra-epithelial), method of removal and the magnification. Similarly, with rust ring removal, the optometrist should document the method of removal and the magnification.
Where complexity of the procedure is beyond the skill of the optometrist, or if other complications are present (e.g. globe perforation, penetration >25%, or patient unable to hold still due to pathological anxiety, nystagmus, or tremor etc, without some form of systemic medication), the patient should be referred to an ophthalmologist.
This item cannot be billed on the same occasion as items 10905, 10907, 10910, 10911, 10912, 10913, 10914, 10915, 10916 or 10918. If the embedded foreign body or rust ring has not been completely removed, benefits are only payable under item 10916.
- Assist - Addition/Deletion of (Assist.)
- Amend - Amended Description
- Anaes - Anaesthetic Values Amended
- Emsn - EMSN Change
- Fee - Fee Amended
- Renum - Item Number Change (renumbered)
- New - New Item
- NewMin - New Item (previous Ministerial Determination)
- Qfe - QFE Change