Healthcare in Australia
Healthcare in Australia is amongst the best in the world and is provided at a very modest overall cost. Emphasis is placed on preventing illness through regular medical and dental checks and good health habits.
Australian immigration ensures access to a strong healthcare system divided into the public (Medicare) and private sectors.
Healthcare in Australia - MediCare
Australian residents are covered by Medicare - the national healthcare programme.
Medicare is partially funded by a levy on income and for those eligible it provides access to free treatment as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital, and free or subsidised medical treatment by practitioners such as doctors, specialists and participating optometrists.
All Australian residents and people who hold Australian citizenship or have been issued with a permanent visa are eligible for Medicare.
To enrol in Medicare, eligible Australia visa holders should wait approximately 7 days after arrival and then go to a Medicare office (listed in the White Pages telephone directory) with their passport and travel documents.
If all enrolment requirements are met, applicants will be given a Medicare card number and a card will be issued.
Medicare does not provide cover for emergency ambulance assistance or ambulance transport to hospital.
Ambulance services in Australia are on a 'fee for service' basis provided by state governments.
A Medicare 'Welcome Kit' is available to anyone who decides to move to Australia which explains Medicare and other government health services and the eligibility requirements for benefits and payments.
Private health Insurance
Australian residents and immigrants with permanent resident status who are eligible Medicare members are able to choose from a wide range of private health insurance products from more than 40 health benefits organisations.
The Federal Government offers a 30% rebate on private health insurance premiums. This rebate is only available to Australian residents who have Medicare eligibility.
The costs and types of private health cover vary widely, hence it is important to check the details carefully before taking out a policy.
Emergency treatment can be obtained through some medical centres or the emergency departments of hospitals.
Public and private hospitals are listed under 'Hospitals' in the White Pages telephone directory.
If hospital treatment is required, it is important that the patient takes their Medicare card or private health insurance membership card with them.
If it is not an emergency, patients should first go to a family doctor (also called a "general practitioner" or "GP") or a medical centre. Appointments with medical specialists cannot be made without getting a referral from a GP first.