Applying for a Medicare number for a child in care

Follow this procedure when:

  • obtaining a child’s existing Medicare number; or
  • applying for new Medicare number on behalf of a child or young person in care.

This procedure is relevant to all children and young people in care. Note: the procedure differs for young people aged over 15 years. 

Document ID number 1125, version 1, 4 January 2019.

Introduction

It is important all children and young people in care are able to access Medicare services from the time they first enter care. The Commonwealth Government funds many health services where access and reimbursement of costs require presentation of a valid Medicare card (or a valid Medicare number). This includes visiting a doctor who bulk bills, or accessing other free health services. Medicare has designated processes that make it easier for child protection to obtain Medicare numbers and cards for children and young people in care.

Policy

Child protection must obtain a Medicare number and Individual Reference Number (IRN) for each child in care. The IRN is the number on the Medicare card to the left of the child’s name. It is used to distinguish individuals named on a card and must be recorded on Medicare claim forms.

As soon as possible upon entry to care, child protection must obtain the child’s existing Medicare number and IRN from their parents or directly from Medicare, irrespective of the placement or order type. This is necessary for the child or young person to access Medicare services and benefits from the time they first enter care.

Upon the making of a final order for a child in care, child protection must obtain a new Medicare number on behalf of the child. This will protect the child’s personal information while they are in care.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

Obtaining an existing Medicare number for a child 14 years and younger

  • Upon entry into care, ask the child’s parents to provide the child’s Medicare number and IRN and explain why it is necessary.    
  • Record on CRIS the parent’s response and, if provided, the child’s Medicare number and IRN. This should be recorded in the Medicare section which can be found in the case practice section of CRIS. In case practice select ‘health’, ‘identity documents’ then ‘Medicare.’ Record the IRN in brackets next to the Medicare number.  
  • If the parents’ advise the child is not registered with Medicare or if they are unable or unwilling to provide the child’s Medicare number and IRN, obtain these from Medicare directly by using the number for authorised agency employees. This is a designated number for child protection and is not publically available. The number can be found on page one of the fact sheet: Medicare for children and young people in out-of-home care.
  • Prior to contacting Medicare, obtain a password and agency ID from the divisional interstate liaison officer (ILO). These must be provided to Medicare for verification purposes. The password is updated regularly and must not be disclosed to anyone outside child protection. The divisional ILO may prefer to contact Medicare on the practitioner’s behalf.

Obtaining an existing Medicare number for a young person aged 15-17 years

  • If seeking a Medicare number and IRN for a young person aged 15 years or over, the young person must speak with Medicare directly. The young person will be asked to confirm their identity by answering some security questions. In the presence of the young person, follow the steps outlined above to contact Medicare and assist the young person to request their Medicare number and IRN.
  • Discuss with the young person whether they wish to share their Medicare number and IRN with child protection.
  • If the young person is not able to speak to Medicare due to a disability, or any other reason including a language, it may be necessary to apply for a new number on behalf of the young person. In this circumstance contact Medicare for advice.     

Enrolling a child in Medicare or obtaining a new Medicare number on behalf of a child aged 14 years or younger

  • Follow these steps, as soon as practicable, after the making of the following orders:
  • family reunification order
  • therapeutic treatment placement order
  • care by Secretary order
  • long-term care order

Consideration may be given to applying for a new Medicare number on behalf of a child on an interim accommodation order if the child has been on the order for a significant period of time and the case plan is for long-term out-of-home care. Discuss with your supervisor if you believe it would be of benefit for a child on an interim accommodation order to have a new Medicare number.   

  • Complete the Medicare enrolment or new Medicare number request form (form number MS045).
  • Provide all required supporting documentation including:
    • a copy of the child’s court order
    • a letter on divisional letterhead requesting a new Medicare number for the child. Refer to the information contained in the application form for further information about what the letter must include.
    • a certified copy of a proof of birth document. Refer to the list of acceptable documents on page 2 of the application form. 
  • If you are working with an Aboriginal child and the child does not have identity documents a new Medicare number may still be obtained, refer to the factsheet: Medicare for children and young people in out-of-home care for information.
  • Email the completed form and supporting documentation in PDF format, checking the documents are not password protected (these are Medicare requirements), to MPS.Eligibility@humanservices with the following subject line: Victoria Child Protection <initial and surname of the child or young person>. The Sending emails securely tool cautions against putting a child’s name in an email subject line. However, for Medicare processing purposes it is required. 

If applying for multiple Medicare numbers, for example on behalf of a sibling group, a separate email must be sent for each child.

  • Record the new Medicare number for the child on CRIS in the medical component tab, once received.
  • Provide the new Medicare number to the child’s carer. See below for further information about providing Medicare numbers and cards to carers.

Obtaining a new Medicare number on behalf of young person aged 15-17 years

  • Discuss the role of Medicare with the young person and how Medicare numbers are used. Refer to the Commonwealth Government’s Medicare website for information.
  • Ask the young person if they would like their new Medicare number to be sent to child protection or if they would prefer to have it provided to them directly.
  • If the young person chooses for child protection to be provided with their Medicare number, the young person must sign page four of the application form.
  • If the young person does not want child protection to apply for a new number on their behalf, support the young person to request their own Medicare card by completing an Application to copy or transfer from one Medicare card to another form (form number MS011). Alternatively ask the young person to nominate a member of their care team to assist them to complete the application form.
  • If a young person applies for their own card, discuss with them whether they wish to share their Medicare number and IRN with child protection.
  • If you are working with a young person who may not be able to communicate their wishes due to a disability or other reason contact Medicare for advice.

Providing Medicare cards to carers and storing the child’s Medicare card

  • Provide the child’s carer with the child’s Medicare number as soon as possible. This will allow the carer to claim Medicare benefits if they have to pay for a child’s medical expenses. Check that the child’s Medicare number and IRN have been recorded in the case practice section of CRIS and record in a case note that the carer has been provided with the child’s Medicare number. 
  • If the child is subject to a family reunification order, store the child’s Medicare card on the child’s file. This will minimise the risk of the card getting lost if the child’s care arrangements change. 
  • Consider providing the Medicare card to the child’s carer in the following circumstances:
  • if the child is subject to a care by Secretary order and has a permanency objective of long-term out-of-home care or permanent care and their care arrangements are unlikely to change
  • if the child is subject to a long-term care order.
  • Obtain Team Manager approval before providing the Medicare card to the child’s carer.
  • Where a young person aged 15 years and over has elected to have their Medicare card provided directly to them, talk to the young person about this responsibility and what to do if they cannot find their card or wish to get in contact with Medicare.  
  • If a permanent care order is made the permanent care parent(s) must be provided with the child’s Medicare card.
  • If the child’s is authorised to an Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care (ACAC) provider under section 18 of CYFA, provide the Medicare card to the ACAC provider as part of the file transfer process.

Medicare cards and leaving care planning

  • Factor the young person’s understanding of, and ability to access Medicare, into leaving care planning. Upon transitioning out of care at the age of 18, young adults may keep the same Medicare number they used while in care. However, they will need to update their contact and address details with Medicare. A member of the young person’s care team may need to assist the young person to complete this task.
  • Refer to the Fact sheet Medicare for children and young people in out-of-home care for instructions on how to stop receiving correspondence from Medicare on behalf of a young person who has transitioned from care.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and support.

Team manager tasks

  • Endorse any decision to provide the child’s Medicare card to a carer.
1