This article provides information and links to resources that will help you understand the Australian Health System.
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.
Get Medicare after you arrive. See how to below.
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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.
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 cover.
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. The Medicare Levy Surcharge is a tax that affects people earning above a certain threshold who don’t hold private hospital cover.
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.
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 health care 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 doctor 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.
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:
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