Moving to Australia has always been a smart option for most people, and it is also relatively easy to see why. It is a haven for travellers and a country that takes good care of its citizens. When moving to a new location, healthcare is an essential thing to consider. It’s important to take note of the Australian healthcare system and what healthcare in Australia includes.

Australia’s health system is one of the top ones in the world. It gives safe, good quality and affordable health care for you and your whole family, too. It is the main reason why they enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the entire world. There are many health providers in Australia, which include:

  • Primary care services delivered by General Practitioners (GPs)
  • Medical specialists 
  • Allowed health workers
  • Nurses 

The public hospital system and Medicare provide free or low-cost access for Australians to many healthcare services. Private health insurance also gives you a choice outside the public healthcare system. For private healthcare that is received in or out of the hospital, it contributes to the cost of your overall health care. It’s also ranked 7th on the list of quality of life countries in the world. Hence its healthcare system is quite exceptional as well. This article by The Finder explains the public and private health insurance in the Australian healthcare system.

Public healthcare in Australia

Australia has a well-made system of universal healthcare that is known as Medicare. It is delivered using a combination of public and private services. Public hospitals, community services, government-based organizations, and public health initiatives are on the public side. Where the public healthcare in Australia is efficient and is thought of internationally as a world-class operation, expats must also realize that there are occasional waiting lists and queues for non-emergency surgery. The standards of rural facilities and urban facilities may also differ. For people living far from a metropolis, it might be essential to travel a good distance to get the proper care for different specialized and complicated treatments

For these reasons, and because costs for all temporary residents without Medicare are on par with all the private facilities, many expats in Australia without permanent residency opt to get private doctors and hospitals. This being said, if it does become necessary for expats with temporary residence to utilize the public system, there is no need to think about standards of care administered. 

Private healthcare in Australia

The population in Australia has some private health cover, and locals and expats are all actively encouraged to take out this coverage scheme by the Government. Most private healthcare package options also specialize in surgery, mainly non-emergency surgeries such as orthopaedic surgery.

As the use of these private facilities goes down, the demand for public facilities does occasionally offer certain rebates to people that choose private facilities. 

Medicare and its services

Medicare is a universal health insurance scheme used that guarantees all Australians, and some foreigners, access to a wide range of healthcare in Australia and hospital services at a low or no cost.

Different parts of Medicare: The different parts Medicare covers on these services:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital insurance): It covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, home health care  and hospice care.
  • Medicare Part B (Medical insurance): It covers certain doctors, outpatient care, preventive services, and medical supplies.
  • Medicare part D (prescription drug coverage): It helps in covering the cost of prescription drugs.

Private medical insurance for expats

Medicare is offered to all permanent residents and Australian citizens. Hence all of the expats that qualify as permanent residents are allowed coverage. But this doesn’t mean that all visitors to Australia may get Medicare. In particular, expats moving to Australia who only have a working visa aren’t eligible.

Expats should also prove that they have sufficient private health insurance or will not receive visas. Furthermore, all tourists and other short-term visitors who enter Australia must carry private travel medical insurance coverage. Signing up for Australian Medicare is relatively easy. Permanent residents may use the official Medicare site to check their eligibility and start the application process.

The website is well designed and will review what documents you need and what steps you may expect. When you have all of the supporting documents, head over to a government service centre.

Assuming everything is all in order, you can get a Medicare number right away, and the physical card will arrive via mail in few weeks. 

If a person is in Australia requires healthcare and is not fully covered at an appropriate level of health insurance, that person may be considered a private patient and will need to pay any costs by themselves at the time of treatment.

Private health insurance for Australians

There are two kinds:

  • Hospital covers for a few or all of the costs of hospital treatment as a private patient 
  • General treatment cover a few non-medical health services that Medicare covers, including dental, physiotherapy, and optical services. 

Along with private health insurance, some people have hospital cover or extra cover, or even both. The Government gives a means-tested rebate to assist you with the cost of your private health insurance. 

Cost of healthcare services in Australia

The costs of medical treatments in Australia are significantly lower than they would have been in the US for similar processes. The Australian healthcare system is a mix of both public and private healthcare services. It also consists of a publically funded, universal healthcare system.

Australian citizens and permanent residents are entitled to receive Medicare. However, Medicare is not accessible to expats with temporary visas. Here is what you have to know about the Australian healthcare system and the medical insurance options for expats. 

Private Australia healthcare insurance plans are all mandatory for expats living in Australia. Expats residing in-country temporarily for work may access medical facilities in private and public sectors. But they will also have to bear the expenses for everything, including the doctor’s visit and admission in an emergency. 

Public healthcare covers primary healthcare in Australia and essential medical costs as well. However, many expats are not eligible to receive Medicare benefits. It doesn’t cover the cost of prescription drugs, rounds to the dentists, an ENT specialist, and physiotherapy, among the rest. Every individual living in the country on a permanent visa is allowed access to public healthcare.

Expats on temporary visas need to go for an international private health insurance plan. To let citizens and residents buy health insurance policies, the Government of Australia gives financial incentives. People that are not eligible for Medicare won’t be able to get benefits from these schemes. 

Private clinics and pharmacies available

Clinic - healthcare in Australia
Photocredit: 123RF

A large population in Australia has access to some private insurance health cover. Private healthcare packages will cover surgery and other severe conditions with increased use of private facilities, demand and dependence on public facilities. Occasionally, Medicare does also offer rebates to residents who choose private facilities over public ones. Expats moving to Australia need to show Australian authorities that they have a comprehensive health insurance plan to get their visas. 

In larger cities of Australia, pharmacies are pretty easy to locate. They remain open late in the night or even round the clock. Since brand names vary from country to country, expats should be aware of the general name of any chronic medication before they enter any country. 

Hospitals that offer affordable healthcare services

The Australian healthcare system is praised as one of the best in the world, so it comes as no surprise that the country’s population claims one of the highest life expectancies in the whole world. A mix of private and public service provision, the Australian healthcare system is affordable and easy to navigate. 

Like many countries, you will also be expected to pay for the doctor’s visit and medical expenses at the time of consultation. Suppose your health insurance company doesn’t make payments for medical expenses directly to the medical service provider. In that case, you should get a detailed receipt and the hospital’s contact information to send for reimbursement.

Many large towns and cities have 24-hour clinics. If you require emergency assistance from an ambulance, the police, or a fire department, you can dial 000 from your private or public phone for no charge. Following are some renowned hospitals in Australia:

How to apply for Medicare

You need to give the following documents based on your circumstances. The documents you need may be different if you are:

  • An Australian citizen 
  • A New Zealand citizen
  • A permanent resident 
  • Applying for permanent residency
  • A temporary resident covered by the Ministerial order
  • You have adopted a child 

How can you enrol?

Enrol in Medicare by using these steps:

  • Completing the Medicare enrolment form
  • Mailing or emailing your form and also the supporting documents to medicare Enrolment Services 

You will get a Medicare card in the email when you are enrolled. They will also send it to the address you have given them. You may get a digital copy of your Medicare card. You will have to sign into the Express Plus Medicare app to access it. To use this app, you require a myGov account linked to your Medicare online account. If you don’t have these, you can set them up and download the app. 

Australia is one of the most liked destinations among expats in the world. It has an exceptionally high standard of living because of its low population density, long life expectancy, higher education and literacy standards and excellent public healthcare standards.

The private system includes private hospitals and pharmacies, clinics, and doctors in private practice that care to the public, billing the Government directly when examining patients. Public healthcare in Australia is all funded by the Federal Government using taxes levied on salaries. The major taxpayers contribute 2 percent of their income to pay in Medicare. Those that earn little or have no income have this contribution waivered off. 

Medicare is offered to all Australian citizens and permanent residents. Hence all of the expats that qualify as permanent residents are allowed to have this coverage. This doesn’t mean that all of the visitors to Australia can get this Medicare. Significantly, all expats that are moving to Australia having a working visa aren’t eligible.

Expats should prove that they have enough private health insurance or will not receive a visa. All tourists and other short-term visitors to Australia must carry their own private travel medical insurance coverage. 

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