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  • Other health services

    Health services that are not defined as medical services are GST-free if all of the following apply:

    The recipient of the supply by the health professional will not always be the patient. In some cases, it may be another business.

    Listed health services

    For a health service that is not defined as a medical service to be GST-free, it must be one of the following:

    • an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health service
    • acupuncture
    • audiology or audiometry
    • chiropody
    • chiropractic
    • dental
    • dietary
    • herbal medicine (including traditional Chinese herbal medicine)
    • naturopathy
    • nursing
    • occupational therapy
    • optometry
    • osteopathy
    • paramedical
    • pharmacy
    • psychology
    • physiotherapy
    • podiatry
    • speech pathology
    • speech therapy
    • social work.

    The service must be one of the listed services and cannot just be similar to one of these services.

    Example: A service that is similar to a listed health service

    Claire is a remedial massage therapist and a member of the national association for remedial massage therapists. The services that Claire provides are similar to those provided by physiotherapists.

    Remedial massage is not a listed service. Remedial massage is not physiotherapy even though it is similar.

    End of example

    Recognised health professionals

    A recognised health professional is a person who is registered, permitted or approved under state or territory law to provide the listed health service.

    If there is no relevant state or territory law, a recognised professional is a member of a professional association that:

    For audiology or audiometry, the service must be provided by an accredited service provider under section 4 of the Hearing Services Administration Act 1997.

    Find out about:

    Membership of a professional association

    A professional association normally has the following characteristics:

    • its members practice in the association's listed profession
    • it sets its own admission requirements, including acceptable qualifications
    • it sets standards of practice and ethical conduct
    • it aims to maintain the standing of the profession as a whole, and often prescribes requirements for maintaining its members' professional skills and knowledge through continuing professional development
    • it has sufficient membership to be considered representative, but not necessarily solely representative, of the listed profession
    • it is a non-profit body
    • it has articles of association, by-laws or codes of conduct for its members
    • it can impose sanctions on members who break the association's rules.

    To be a recognised member of a professional association:

    • you normally need to meet specified admission criteria
    • have access to a professional library – for example, journals, newsletters or technical updates
    • be able to take part in decision-making that affects your profession – for example to promote, encourage and develop the profession
    • have the right to vote at the association's meetings.

    Example 1: Not a member of a professional association

    Nijah runs a naturopathy practice in Brisbane.

    There is no state or territory regulation covering naturopathy registration and Nijah is not a member of a professional association. Nijah cannot provide GST-free services.

    End of example

    Example 2: Not representative of the profession

    Leroy is a specialist in a form of naturopathy and a member of a nationally-based professional association representing the specialist subgroup. The professional association has 15 members and all the practitioners of this specialist subgroup of naturopathy are members of this association. This is the only professional association that Leroy is a member of.

    With just 15 members, it is unlikely that the association would be considered representative of the naturopathy profession as a whole. As a member of this association, Leroy does not meet the definition of a recognised professional and cannot provide his services GST-free.

    End of example

    Uniform national registration requirements

    Uniform national registration requirements mean your professional association operates nationally and the association's registration requirements are the same in all states and territories.

    Professional associations set the requirements and make sure that only suitably qualified people gain professional practitioner status.

    Example: Non-national professional association

    Evelyn is a herbalist and a member of a Northern Territory-based herbalist association with its own registration requirements. This is the only professional association of which Evelyn is a member.

    As Evelyn is not a member of a nationally-based professional association, only a Territory-based association, she does not meet the definition of a recognised professional. Her service is subject to GST.

    End of example

    Recognised professional in more than one service

    Health practitioners who are recognised professionals in more than one service listed in the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (GST Act) may supply a combination of services. Their health services will be GST-free to the extent that the services are GST-free listed health services.

    For example, in relation to goods supplied as part of a service, herbs supplied during a consultation by a recognised professional herbal medicine practitioner or naturopath are GST-free if they are completely used or consumed during a consultation that is GST-free. If the goods are only partially used or consumed during the consultation at the premises, only the used portion is GST-free.

    However, when a recognised professional in both acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine supplies a patient with a herbal preparation, the preparation is GST-free if it is supplied at the premises where the GST-free treatment was provided. It is not necessary for the patient to consume the entire herbal medicine preparation during the consultation.

    See also:

    Services provided by an assistant

    If part of the health service is performed by an assistant to the recognised health professional, it is included as part of the recognised health professional's service if all of the following apply:

    • it is billed in the name of the recognised health professional and they accept full responsibility for the health service
    • it is part of the health service that the recognised health professional provides
    • the recognised health professional has been involved in at least part of that health service
    • the recognised health professional supervises the assistant directly by   
      • attending to the patient at the start of each treatment
      • being readily available for the whole time the assistant works with the patient
      • being available to take appropriate action if there is an emergency
      • planning all the treatment the assistant provides
      • being able to provide evidence that they monitor the assistant's services.
       

    Massage therapy

    If you supply massage therapy alone, it is not GST-free because it is not listed as a health service in the GST Act.

    However, you can supply massage therapy GST-free if:

    • you supply it as part of a listed health service, for example, physiotherapy
    • you are a recognised professional in the listed health service and also trained in massage therapy
    • the listed health service profession considers the massage to be a standard technique or component treatment for that listed health service
    • the listed health service profession accepts it as being necessary for the appropriate treatment of the recipient of the supply.

    Recipient of the supply

    The recipient of the supply is whoever engages the health practitioner to provide the service. In many cases, this will be the patient. However, in some cases, it will be a business. Supplies of services by a health practitioner to another business are not usually GST-free – see Supply of services through a third party.

    Where a patient engages that other business to supply health services to him or her, the supply by that other business to the patient will be GST-free if the requirements of medical service or other health service are satisfied.

    Example: GST-free service supplied by a business that engages a medical practitioner

    GP Mega Clinic operates a medical clinic and contracts medical practitioners to provide services to its patient. A Medicare benefit is payable to the patient for the services performed by the medical practitioner.

    The supply by the medical practitioner to GP Mega Clinic is not GST-free except in specific situations.

    The supply of the medical practitioner’s services by GP Mega Clinic to the patient is GST-free because a Medicare benefit is payable for that service.

    End of example

    Arrangements between clinics and health practitioners

    Some health practitioners enter into arrangements with clinics for providing health services to patients. The health practitioner will perform the health services and the health clinic provides the rooms and administration. The health practitioner and the clinic may agree to split the patient fees between them.

    There will be different GST outcomes depending on who is contracting who. This can only be determined by the contract entered into between the parties and contracts should clearly state who is contracting who so both parties are aware of the GST outcomes.

    If the clinic contracts the health practitioner to provide services to the health clinic’s patient:

    If the health practitioner contracts the clinic to provide rooms and administration services to the health practitioner:

    • the supply of the rooms and administration services by the clinic to the health practitioner are not GST-free
    • the supply by the health practitioner to the patient will be GST-free if the requirements of medical service or other health service are satisfied.

    Appropriate treatment

    A health professional is supplying appropriate treatment when they use their professional skills to:

    • assess a patient's health
    • work out a course of action to preserve, restore or improve the patient's physical or psychological wellbeing, as far as the practitioner's training allows
    • supply a treatment that is generally accepted by their profession as being appropriate for the patient.

    Appropriate treatment includes preventative medicine and routine check-ups. For example, procedures such as pap smears, breast cancer screening and vaccinations are GST-free as they are appropriate for the people involved.

      Last modified: 18 Nov 2019QC 16263