Will I be eligible for Medicare in Australia?

When relocating to Australia, you firstly need to ask yourself - are you covered by Medicare, our public health system? And the answer - well, it depends. Residents of some countries enjoy limited Medicare cover, but only for emergency treatment, and only under certain conditions. If you aren’t covered though, you’ll have to pay for hospital or medical treatment, which can be pricey. For instance, an emergency appendix removal can cost as much as $30,000. Ouch! 

Overseas visitors who enter Australia on a temporary visa will not be eligible for Medicare benefits unless they’re a resident of a country that has a 'Reciprocal Health Care Agreement' with Australia. Currently, this includes:

  • New Zealand;
  • The United Kingdom;
  • Ireland;
  • Italy;
  • Malta;
  • Finland;
  • Sweden;
  • the Netherlands; and
  • Belgium.

If you’re visiting Australia from one of these countries, you’re generally covered for medically necessary treatment in a public hospital. You won’t be able to choose your own doctor though, and you also won’t be covered for:

  • Treatment in a private hospital, only public hospitals
  • Non-emergency doctor visits; or
  • Extras services like dental, optical, chiro or ambulance transport.

Even if you're covered by Medicare though, private health insurance still makes sense. Medicare is good, but it isn’t perfect. There are still waiting lists. And who wants to wait for a doctor when you could be enjoying Australia?

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