MBS Items and Descriptors

NCSP Medical Benefits Schedule Item Numbers and Descriptors

From 1 December 2017, seven new Medicare funded cervical screening pathology services (73070, 73071, 73072, 73073, 73074, 73075 and 73076) were introduced as part of the implementation of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) renewal when primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing with reflex Liquid Based Cytology (LBC), if required, became the primary screening test used in the NCSP.

The six pre-existing Pap test items (69418, 69419, 73053, 73055, 73057 and 73069) were removed from the Pathology Services Table at that time. There is no MBS Item Number for the conventional Pap smear.

Are there conditions or rules which apply to cervical screening tests in the MBS?

It is important to note that rules apply when claiming Medicare benefits for cervical screening tests. For example:

  • Item Number 73070 - routine 5-yearly screening. Only one of this MBS Item Number is claimable in a 57-month period and the woman must be at least 24 years and 9 months of age (see below).
  • Item Number 73071 - self collected screening. Only one of this MBS Item Number is claimable in a 7-year period and the woman must be at least 30 years of age.

Similar rules apply to other Medicare funded cervical screening pathology services and requesting practitioners and laboratories should ensure that they are familiar with these conditions and rules.

For a full list of Cervical Screening Test Item numbers and descriptors with explanatory notes .

For further information also see MBS OnLine.

Is routine screening through the NCSP available for women under 25 years of age?

Cervical screening is not recommended for women under 25 years. Medicare does not fund routine HPV screening tests in women under 25 years of age and the testing of these samples must be privately funded by the patient. However, for women who experienced early sexual activity at a young age (<14 years) and who had not received the HPV vaccine before sexual debut, or those that have been victims of sexual abuse, a single HPV test between 20 and 24 years of age could be considered (such a test is funded by a Medicare rebate for the investigation of a patient in a specific population that appears to have a higher risk of pre-cervical cancer). Women with symptoms at any age can screen and are funded by a Medicare rebate for investigation of a patient with symptoms suggestive of cervical cancer.

Commencing screening at age 25 (rather than earlier, as with previous NCSP policy), reduces the investigation and treatment of common cervical abnormalities that would usually resolve by themselves.

Are there special requirements for practitioners writing pathology request forms?

Practitioners requesting cervical screening tests are required to provide the patient’s presentation and testing history on the pathology request form to correctly order the Cervical Screening Test.

The Department of Health provides guidance for practitioners requesting cervical screening tests to assist them in choosing the correct test. A pdf version of the guide is available at Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing.

It is the responsibility of the treating healthcare practitioner to determine if the sample is being collected as part of the routine screening program under 73070 or 73071 or represents a sample falling under 73072 or 73073 or 73074 or 73075 or 73076, and to indicate this on the request form.

Do laboratories have a responsibility to advise practitioners regarding ordering cervical screening tests?

Section 3 of the NPAAC Requirements for Laboratories Reporting Tests for the National Cervical Screening Program (the Requirements) states the responsibility of laboratories to advise practitioners regarding the ordering of cervical screening tests as follows:

“S3.1 The laboratory must advise requesting practitioners that the specimen must be identified as a screening specimen, follow-up specimen, specimen from a symptomatic woman, post-treatment specimen or a self-collected specimen.”

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