General Explanatory Notes
Medicare Safety Nets
The Medicare Safety Nets provide families and individuals 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 (OMSN) and the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN).
Original Medicare Safety Net:
Under the OMSN, 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. The threshold from 1 January 2023 is $531.70. This threshold applies to all Medicare-eligible individuals and families.
Extended Medicare Safety Net:
Under the EMSN, once an annual threshold in out-of-pocket costs for out-of-hospital Medicare services is reached, Medicare will pay for up to 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 below. Out-of-pocket costs refer to the difference between the Medicare benefit and the fee charged by the practitioner.
In 2023, the threshold for concessional individuals and families, including families that received Family Tax Benefit Part (A), is $770.30. The threshold for all other (non-concessional) individuals and families in 2023 is $2,414.00.
The thresholds for both safety nets are indexed on 1 January each year in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Individuals are automatically registered with Services Australia for the safety nets. Families (including couples) 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 completed online at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/medicare-safety-nets.
EMSN Benefit Caps:
The EMSN benefit cap is the maximum EMSN benefit payable for that item and is paid in addition to the standard Medicare rebate. Where there is an EMSN benefit cap in place for the item, the amount of the EMSN cap is displayed in the item descriptor. Once the EMSN threshold is reached, each time the item is claimed the patient is eligible to receive up to the EMSN benefit cap. In other words, once the patient reaches the EMSN threshold, they will receive either 80% of their out-of-pocket costs back or the EMSN cap amount, whichever is the lower amount.
For example: Item A has a Schedule fee of $100, the out-of-hospital benefit is $85 (85% of the Schedule fee). The EMSN benefit cap is $30. Assuming that the patient has reached the EMSN threshold:
o If the fee charged by the doctor for Item A is $125, the standard Medicare rebate is $85, with an out-of-pocket cost of $40. The EMSN benefit is calculated as $40 x 80% = $32. However, as the EMSN benefit cap is $30, only $30 will be paid.
o If the fee charged by the doctor for Item A is $110, the standard Medicare rebate is $85, with an out-of-pocket cost of $25. The EMSN benefit is calculated as $25 x 80% = $20. As this is less than the EMSN benefit cap, the full $20 is paid.
- 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