Moving to Australia is an exciting prospect. But medical problems inevitably arise. No one wants to get sick or injured while in Australia and have to pay a lot of money.
Is healthcare free in Australia?
Medicare is Australia’s publicly funded healthcare system, but it does not have 100% coverage. Medicare provides free or subsidized medical care, optometry (eye care), and public hospital care to those who qualify. Medicare does not pay for emergency care, physical therapy, eyeglasses, podiatry, chiropractic services, or private hospital stays.
Medicare does not pay for dental care, except for people with low incomes. Denticare Australia’s nationwide program could be expanded in the next government budget, but specific details are yet to be announced. Some dental associations offer interest-free payment plans, member discounts that attract annual fees, or regular patient discounts to keep costs down.
Individuals may also choose to access private medical services that charge a fee for their services and may purchase private health insurance to cover such costs.
Are you under a shared health care contract?
The Australian government also has shared medical agreements with other countries that provide “limited access” to public health services while living in Australia. Limited access often limits care to, for example, “medically necessary” treatment. If you have an illness or injury during your stay in Australia that requires treatment at a regional hospital before you return to your home country.
In New Zealand and Ireland, individuals are not issued a Medicare card and instead show their passports at public hospitals or pharmacies. Non-hospital care, such as a visit to a local doctor, is not covered. Some exchanges pay Medicare benefits for out-of-pocket treatments performed by doctors at private surgeries and community health centers. All contracts cover medicines funded under the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS).
Note: Award agreements are technically only for direct, for example, individuals of a reciprocal country. If you lived overseas before coming to Australia, you may not be eligible because you have not recently joined your home country’s health system. However, the application of this requirement varies by Medicare employee.
The Medicare Information Kit for Immigrants is available in 19 languages.
What is government funding?
The benefits (or reimbursement) you receive from Medicare are based on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for certain services defined by the government. Doctors and other health care professionals may choose to pay more than the schedule or multiple payments. Bundled billing is a way for doctors to bill Medicare directly and receive Medicare benefits for all services. The more doctors pay, the more patients pay.
Many doctors now offer to process your Medicare bill electronically at the end of your appointment. Alternatively, you can submit most claims online, visit a Medicare office, or file your claim. See also How Medicare Works.
Patients may also be charged for additional tests and vaccinations required by their doctor as part of their treatment.
Below are examples of benefits based on the current schedule (November 1, 2011).
Standard Doctor Level B consultation with a GP (General Practitioner) in the office in less than 20 minutes: Fee = $35.60 and benefit = 100%, so you get a discount of $35.60. So if your doctor charges $65.00 for your visit, you owe $29.40. If the physician does a bundled bill, the $35.60 copay is paid directly to Medicare, eliminating co-payments for the co-pay patient.
The first appointment with a specialist at the hospital or in their G-room