Moving to Australia from New Zealand?

Get all information you need to make a successful and stress-free move across the ditch.

Medicare Australia, health insurance, to-do list… what you need to know about the Australian health care system.

Medicare is Australia’s main healthcare government-funded scheme. New Zealand citizens can enrol in Medicare immediately (recommended a week after you arrive) if they provide proof that they’ll be living in Australia for the next 6 months (see below). You can enrol any time in the 6 months after you first arrive in Australia.

Until you enrol, you can get healthcare under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement. This covers essential treatment in a public hospital. You can’t enrol or get a Medicare card until you prove you live in Australia.

The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between New Zealand and Australia provides temporary coverage for medically necessary care in a public hospital and access to prescription medications at a lower price. However, it is important to note that it is only designed as a temporary measure and longer-term treatment may require returning to New Zealand.

The Australian Government funds three major national health schemes, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate. These are funded via taxes and the income-based Medicare Levy, which everyone has to pay.

In this post, you will find helpful information on the following:

Suggested Health Care To-Do List:

  1. Before settling in Australia obtain medical records for each member of your family (including immunisation records for the children – schools and daycare centres often ask for these). You will need to pass these on to your new GP (see below).
  2. Research Private Health Insurance in Australia.
  3. One week after arriving in Australia visit or phone your local Medicare Office to enrol.
  4. Once you have been issued your Medicare Card take it with you when:
    1. you visit a doctor
    2. or hospital
    3. when you have a prescription filled
    4. make a claim at a Medicare office
  5. Consider registering for the Medicare Safety Net (keep your medical receipts).
  6. Let Medicare know if you change your address.
  7. If you have children visit the Australia Government Immunisation page.

Let us know in the comments section below if there is anything else you need to know we will do some research and add it to our online resources if possible. 

Medicare Australia

Medicare is a publicly funded universal health care scheme in Australia. Operated by the government authority Medicare Australia, Medicare is the primary funder of health care in Australia, funding primary health care for Australian citizens and permanent residents (except for those on Norfolk Island).

Residents are entitled to subsidised treatment from medical practitioners, eligible midwives, nurse practitioners and allied health professionals who have been issued a Medicare provider number and can also obtain free treatment in public hospitals.

Find more information on Medicare Australia here.

Costs of medication and operations in Australia

Moving to Australia and want to know if your medication or recommended operation is subsidised in Australia (how much is it going to cost you).

There are many things to consider when moving to Australia, and whether you can still get the prescriptions you need is high on the list. There also might be an operation you’ve been told you might need, and you want to know if you will be covered under Medicare and how much it will cost.

The good news is that, as New Zealanders living in Australia on an SCV, we are covered under Medicare for the prescriptions and hospital care we need.

Find out exactly how much your medication and operation will cost in my costs of medication and operations in Australia post. 

Private Health Insurance

If you are making plans to move to Australia, applying for health insurance is an important part of the process. Aside from that, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected.

In Australia, the public health system Medicare covers most Australian residents for health care. However, Medicare does not cover everything and you can choose to take out private health insurance to give yourself a wider range of health care options and more comprehensive coverage.

There are two types of health insurance: hospital & general treatment (ancillary or extras). You can buy them separately or most funds offer combined policies. There will be limitations on what and when you can claim with any policy you buy.

The Private Health Insurance Rebate is a federal government subsidy for the cost of insurance, while the Lifetime Health Cover rules are designed to encourage people to purchase private health cover earlier and to stay covered.

Most Australians with private health insurance currently receive a rebate from the Australian Government to help cover the cost of their premiums. You can find more information on my private health insurance post.

If you are in Australia on a temporary student visa or if you are applying for a visa subclass 457, it is a visa condition that you take out private health cover. If you are visiting Australia on any other visa, you should consider taking out some cover for the duration of your stay.

This is a good place to start, the Australian Government website Private Health or you can read more on my private health insurance post. 

Compare Health Insurance Policies

To allow for a simpler comparison of health insurance products all Australian health insurers are required by law to provide details of each of their products to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman. contains details of every health insurance policy available in Australia, as well as its Private Health Information Statement.

This government website gives you facts that are not biased or trying to sell you anything! It gives you comprehensive, independent private health insurance information.

Start comparing policies here

Why do you need Health Insurance in Australia?

Private health insurance is important because there are things Australia’s Medicare system does not cover. The same reasons you have Health Insurance in New Zealand apply in Australia.

With Health Insurance you’ll get access to elective surgery, probably with your choice of doctor, in the comfort of a private hospital without having to wait months or even years.

In Australia, the taxpayer-funded Medicare healthcare system covers many medical, hospital and pharmaceutical costs. Under this system, you can be treated as a public patient, at no charge, in a public hospital by a doctor appointed by the hospital.

However, as a public patient, you have to wait your turn and you are at the mercy of waiting lists for doctors and procedures. The same as in New Zealand.

The benefits of private health insurance include a greater choice of doctors than you would get in the public system, access to a private hospital that might be more comfortable than the public one, and probably a shorter wait for some forms of elective (non-urgent) surgery.

In the public system, if you need elective rather than emergency surgery you may have to wait months or even years. But with private health insurance, you may be able to have elective surgery within weeks, possibly at a time and place convenient to you.

In addition, some forms of health care are not available for free in the public system. You have to meet the costs of your regular visits to the dentist, for instance.

Health Insurance Benefit Checklist:

Depending on the policy you take out, and within the annual maximum payouts set by the policy, private health insurance can cover costs such as:

  • Hospital expenses (theatre fees or accommodation) in a private hospital
  • Ambulance fees
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Home Nursing
  • Podiatry
  • Physiotherapy, occupational, speech and eye therapy
  • ‘Complementary’ therapies such as acupuncture
  • Glasses and contact lenses
  • Dental care
  • Pharmaceutical costs


Finding a GP in Australia

A good GP can be one of the most important people in your life, particularly if you have a chronic condition or develop a serious illness. A positive ongoing relationship with your GP is priceless, so it’s important to choose the right one.

The best doctors do more than just diagnose – they coordinate your complete healthcare, sending you the right tests and to the right specialists. They’ll help you stay healthier and limit unnecessary hospital visits.

Choice has put together an extremely helpful guide to help you find your new GP – Your guide to choosing a good GP

You might be interested in…

The below posts might interest you:

Still, got unanswered questions?

If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please comment below and I’ll research the answer for you. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days and I can’t keep up.

Can I help you find something else?

If you need advice on moving to Australia from New Zealand, I’ve created a helpful little questionnaire to point you in the right direction. It takes less than 30 seconds, so give it a go!


  1. Alison Adamson

    May 17, 2024 at 4:15 pm

    Hi JJ
    My husband and I are considering moving to Australia, but my husband is concerned that his health issues will prevent him from receiving care under Australia’s healthcare schemes. Can you help relieve our concerns? He has a condition called Ankylosing Spondilitis (AS) – a long term condition that is treated with medication but cannot be cured. He also has an injury to his neck, which at the moment he gets nerve blocker injections every 3-6 months for. This injury ultimately requires surgery but he is considered high risk due to the AS. Will these issues be covered by Medicare or the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

    • JJ Smith

      May 20, 2024 at 11:43 am

      Hi Alison,
      Thanks for your comment.
      You use the below link to search the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme website to find out costs of your husbands medicine in Australia: Since you didn’t include the name of the medication, I couldn’t search for you.
      You can also sesarch the nerve blocker injections on the above site.
      The Scheme is available to all Australian residents who hold a current Medicare card and overseas visitors from countries with which Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA), which includes New Zealand citizens.
      You can also search the Australian Government Department of Health website to find and understand costs for medical specialist services across Australia. You can search for a procedure or service, browse by category or enter an MBS item number. Explore typical costs across Australia. Some procedures also include typical specialist fees:
      Hope the above helps.

  2. Matthew

    February 11, 2024 at 11:25 pm


    I am a New Zealand citizen and my partner is dutch. We are wanting to emigrate to Australia. My partner has last year been diagnosed with Bowel cancer. She has now had treatment and is in remission, can this be a reason for her Subclass 461 New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa to be rejected?

    • JJ Smith

      February 14, 2024 at 9:34 am

      Hi Matthew,
      Thank yo for your comment, but unfortunately I am not an immigration specialist, so can’t advise you.
      I recommend you ask your question to IMMagine:
      For a small fee (AUD$15.00) you can post your question online and one of the IMMagine team will be in touch with your answer within 24 hours (usually same-day response). This service is designed for people who need quick access to accurate information, but don’t want to trawl through the internet to find the answers or commit to anything just yet. Most importantly, your questions are answered by licensed advisers living in New Zealand or Australia.
      Hope the above helps.

  3. Maddie

    October 25, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    Hi JJ, thanks for your blog, the info and details shared are very helpful and you’re very kind. My mother and I are Kiwis and we want to move to Sydney to be with family. She has osteoarthritis and we know she will need a knee replacement surgery in the future. Wondering if she will be eligible for support in the public health system? Will surgery be subsidised? Where can we get more information? Thanks so much again.

    • JJ Smith

      October 26, 2023 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Maddie,
      Thanks for your comment and compliment.
      Knee replacement surgery is covered by Medicare. The Australia healthcare system is very similar to NZ, where you can go public or private (with insurance).
      Public hospital patients: you have no costs for the procedure as a public patient in hospital with Medicare. Fees and costs shown in below link do not apply.
      Private hospital patients: you may have out-of-pocket costs for the procedure in a private hospital. The typical fees and costs shown below are for people with Medicare and who have private health insurance for the procedure. See Explanations of fees and costs in below link.
      You can read more on the Australia Government website, Department of Health and Aged Care:
      Sydney is such an amazing place to live. My brother lives there and loves it!
      Hope the above answers all your questions.
      Good luck with your move.

  4. Graeme

    August 30, 2023 at 8:07 am

    I am a myeloma patient who has undergone treatment here in NZ but has relapsed.
    The drug (treatment) I need now is not funded in NZ and my future looks bleak
    It is funded in Australia and my question is can I move to Australia permanently and receive this govt funded drug as a new immigrant?
    Thank you in advance for your advice.

    • JJ Smith

      August 31, 2023 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Graeme,
      Thank you for your message.
      I’ve done some research and found out the below…
      As of December 2020, the following drugs are available in Australia either through Medicare on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), on special access programs through the manufacturer or on a clinical trial –, click on ‘how is myeloma treated tab to view list of drugs.
      Who is eligible for the PBS?
      The Scheme is available to all Australian residents who hold a current Medicare card.
      Overseas visitors from countries with which Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) are also eligible to access the Scheme. Australia currently has RHCAs with the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Malta, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Belgium and Slovenia.
      Therefore, it looks like you are eligible to get the drug you need in Australia!
      However, I recommend you reach out to Myeloma Australia and ask them any questions you have, as they will be able to give you confirmation on what your treatment would look like/cost in Australia when I can only provide information I have been able to find online:
      Hope the above helps.

      • Graeme

        August 31, 2023 at 3:23 pm

        Thank you so much JJ.
        This is fantastic & really is a big help!

  5. Kelly Grey

    June 7, 2023 at 1:34 am

    Hi, my father in law is in a care home in NZ, he has limited family and friends left in NZ both his son (my husband) and my sister in law have lived in australia for over 20 years. My father in law came for a holiday with a nurse but now has his heart set on living over here as upon returning to Nz he is lonely. Is migrating to Australia an option when you need to go into a care home and what steps would need to be taken?

    • JJ Smith

      June 19, 2023 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Kelly,
      The Australian Government subsidises a range of aged care homes in Australia. This means affordable care and support services can be accessed by those who need it. The subsidies are paid directly to the aged care home. The amount of funding that a home receives is based on:
      – an assessment of your care needs by an independent assessor
      – how much you can afford to contribute to the cost of your care and accommodation (using a means assessment)
      To get the funding, subsidised aged care homes have to meet Aged Care Quality Standards to ensure quality care and services are provided.
      Australian Government-funded aged care homes:
      – Receive subsidies to make care more affordable
      – Regulated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC):
      – Some can also offer places that aren’t subsidised
      You can find a list of subsidised aged care homes on this website using the Find a provider tool:
      Aged care homes not funded by the Australian Government:
      – Some aged care homes don’t receive subsidies from the Australian Government
      – Retirement homes or independent living units don’t necessarily provide care services
      – Retirement homes are regulated by state and territory governments
      These aged care homes and retirement homes aren’t listed on this website, but you can read more about them on our non government-funded providers page (
      Who is eligible for a subsidised place?
      Eligibility is based on need, determined through an assessment. To be eligible, you must be unable to live independently at home and can be either:
      – an older person
      – a younger person with a disability, dementia or other special care needs not met through other specialist services.
      Your financial situation doesn’t affect your eligibility to live in a government-subsidised aged care home. It will impact the amount you may have to pay.
      Check if you meet the requirements for an assessment ( or if you are ready, apply for an assessment now (
      You can find more information about costs, assessments, eligibility, means assessment and the steps to getting into an aged care home here:
      Here are some other posts that I found useful when researching your question:
      – About residential aged care –
      – My Aged Care – eligibility guidelines for senior Australians –
      – Get a customised list of aged care vacancies near you –
      Hopefully the above has given you enough information to get you started.
      Please let me know if there is any information I can share with other visitors about getting a loved one in an aged care home in Australia.

  6. Norman

    March 4, 2023 at 10:20 pm

    I have spent the last 25 years in Brisbane. Dad is an Australian citizen as he was born there in 1941. Mum recently passed away and had spent her last year and a bit being a full-time carer for Dad. Dad has early stage Dementia. I have spent the last month or so taking on this role here in NZ but need to return to Australia to my family as this is not financially sustainable here as I am without an income.
    I am looking at bringing Dad to Brisbane and return to my job. Dad would stay at home with me. Also would need some help and support with in home care package and what does Dad qualify for. He currently receives the Australian pension..
    Any help or steps in the right direction appreciated.

    • JJ Smith

      March 6, 2023 at 10:36 am

      Hi Norman,
      Thank you for your message.
      As your Dad is an Australian citizen, he will have access to support from the Australia Government.
      I recommend you contact Dementia Australia to see what support you both can get after you arrive in Australia:
      Sorry, I can’t give you any specifics about what care help you both will receive, but Dementia Australia is the best first contact.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move back to Australia.

  7. Rebecca

    March 2, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Hi there
    myself and my husband are thinking of moving from NZ to OZ we have a 15 Year old son with special needs so I just wanted to now what help medically and education wise there is available for him in Oz if we do move thank you.

    • JJ Smith

      March 3, 2023 at 2:30 pm

      Hi Rebecca,
      Thank you for your message.
      This is one of the hardest areas to find information online about, and therefore I can’t really help.
      I do recommend you research your son’s condition online in Australia and get in touch with a support group over there. They will be able to give you some answers.
      You can also approach/call a school in the area you are planning on moving to and ask what help they are able to offer you.
      Here is a list of the Australian Government payments and the newly arrived resident’s waiting period for each:
      Please let me know if there is anything more specific I can research for you.

  8. Jessica

    December 1, 2022 at 4:56 pm


    I am moving to Australia, I have an autoimmune disease and I require medication each day (medication is funded). I have health insurance in NZ (Southern cross). How do I go about getting medical scripts when I am over in Australia, is it easy to sign up for a doctor’s practice?

    Thank you!!

    • JJ Smith

      December 5, 2022 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Jessica,
      Thank you for your comment.
      You will need to find a doctor in the area you are moving to for your prescription and you should look into health insurance in Australia.
      I’ve just added the below section to my Australian health care system post, thanks to your comment:
      Finding a GP in Australia
      A good GP can be one of the most important people in your life, particularly if you have a chronic condition or develop a serious illness. A positive ongoing relationship with your GP is priceless, so it’s important to choose the right one.
      The best doctors do more than just diagnose – they co-ordinate your complete healthcare, sending you for the right tests and to the right specialists. They’ll help you stay healthier and limit unnecessary hospital visits.
      Choice has put together an extremely helpful guide to help you find your new GP – Your guide to choosing a good GP:
      I also recommend asking Southern Cross if they partner with a provider in Australia, or have a read of my private health insurance post, which includes a link to comparing Australian insurance policies:
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  9. Wendy

    January 24, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    Hi JJ,
    Thank you, your blog is very informative.
    I’m looking at studying in Aus but was told as a NZ citizen if I get a Health Card I will qualify for a concession on the fees
    Is a Medicare Card a Health Card?
    Would appreciate your assistance.
    Kind Regards

    • JJ Smith

      February 4, 2020 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Wendy,
      Thank you for your email. Sorry for the delay in replaying.
      I have not come across this before but it looks like the advice you have been given is correct. And a Australia Health Card is different from Medicare.
      Here is the info on the Health Care Card on the Australian Government website, including eligibility:
      Can you please let me know how you get on so I can pass the advise onto other New Zealanders moving to Australia?
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.

  10. Michelle

    December 10, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Hiya! Awesome website. Loads of info! But, we have a son diagnosed with autism, and would love more information on what Australia can offer us. Currently in NZ there are waiting lists for months for services. We are entitled to a few supports, a disability allowance and paid for carer support hours. Does Australia offer these to NZers. Any info at all that you might have would be appreciated.
    Kind regards, Michelle

    • JJ Smith

      December 10, 2019 at 10:47 pm

      Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for your email.
      I’ve been doing a lot of research but unfortunately haven’t come up against anything positive.
      National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services are restricted to Australian citizens, permanent residents and Protected Special Category Visa-holders (PSCVs). New Zealanders residing in Australia as non-protected Special Category Visa-holders (SCVs) are temporary residents under the Migration Act when it comes to disability help.
      Here is the NDIS eligibility checklist:
      If you have any questions regarding eligibility, you can contact the National Disability Insurance Agency directly on 1800 800 110 to submit an Access Request Form, or visit the national NDIS website (
      You can search for autism support on Google by the state you plan on moving to, as each state has it’s own rules and regulations.
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  11. Sean

    November 24, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    Hi my wife and I are in the final stages of preparing our move to Brisbane. 10yrs ago we moved Brisbane and lived there for over 4yrs. While there i became sick and I was in and out of Brisbane Hospital and I recieved the required medical treatment. When I got well enough to fly we moved back to New Zealand and since moving back I’ve had more medical procedures which now require me to have medical infusions every 8 weeks. From what I’ve read and the information I have found, my infusions should continue as per normal if living in Australia. But I still have my doubts about it. I have to have infliximab infusions every 8 weeks in a hospital. I really need to know if this will be covered under the repricol agreement that New Zealand has with australia. It looks as thou it is, but I need this clarified more. I’m hoping my previous time in Brisbane hospital will help me get the treatment I need now in Australia.
    Thanks for your time. Look forward to your reply.

    • JJ Smith

      November 24, 2019 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Sean,
      Thank you for your email.
      Sorry but I have not had personal experience with this so can only recommend what I personally would do if in your position.
      Therefore I recommend contacting Brisbane hospital and confirm with them. You can also ask whoever is treating you in NZ, as they may know.
      Sorry I can not be of more help.
      Good luck with your move.

  12. Kathy Hunter

    August 20, 2019 at 12:46 am

    Hi, I’m a Kiwi and my husband’s an Australian. I’ve got multiple sclerosis, I was diagnosed with it here in NZ nine years ago and have been on what they call a “disease modifying drug” for the past two years. It is fully funded for me here. My husband and I often talk about moving back to Aussie but I’m not sure I would be eligible to have this treatment there. I haven’t asked my neurologist about it yet – I will do if we get more serious about moving back, but wondered if you might know anything about it?
    Thank you x

    • JJ Smith

      August 21, 2019 at 11:33 pm

      Hi Kathy,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Unfortunately I can’t find anything online that answers your question.
      You will need to talk to your neurologist. You will be able to get Medicare and private health insurance. You just need to know if the drug is available and funded in Australia.
      Please feel free to email me back any further questions you have.
      Good luck with your move.


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