What is a reciprocal country?

A reciprocal country has a health care agreement with Australia, which entitles its residents to receive treatment in a public hospital anywhere in Australia.

The countries with reciprocal health care agreements are: New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. However, please note that students from Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland aren’t covered by agreements with those countries.

As a resident of one of these countries, you are entitled to the following health or injury treatments while you are in Australia:

  • Emergency treatment as a public in-patient or out-patient in a public hospital
  • Subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment provided by a doctor (GP Visits)

The key word here is ‘emergency’. Reciprocal health care agreements aren’t designed to replace private travel and health insurance. If you rely on a reciprocal agreement, you may have to wait a while before you’re treated, even for emergency treatment. Taking out private health insurance means you won’t have to go on a public waiting list. What’s more, you’ll be able to choose your own doctor and hospital. 

To find out more about our Overseas Visitors covers, click here