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Australian Healthcare

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Medicare

The Australian healthcare system is known as Medicare. Like the NHS, it is funded by taxpayers and healthcare is available to Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens and permanent visa holders.

Most people will pay what's known as the Medicare Levy on all taxable earnings in Australia; the current Medicare Levy is 1.5%.

However, if you earn less than AU$19,404 you are exempt from the levy, between AU$19,404 and AU$22,828 and you will pay a reduced levy.

High income earners are subjected to an increased levy known as a Medicare Levy Surchage unless that person has private medical care, in which case no levy is taken.

The thresholds which incur the surcharges differ depending on a taxpayer's martital and family situation:

Singles Medicare Levy Surcharge Couples Medicare Levy Surcharge
Singles Medicare Levy Surcharge Couples Medicare Levy Surcharge ;

Accessing healthcare in Australia

The Australian government has an agreement with the UK and Ireland which allows citizens of either country who have a permanent visa in Australia access to essential medical treatment in Australia, and vice versa.

In order to gain access to medical treatment, new residents in Australia are advised to register with the Medicare agency not long after arriving in Australia.

Registration

You can register for Medicare at whichever Medicare office is nearest you, you'll need to complete this form and take your passport and visa documentation with you as evidence. After applying, you will be given a Medicare card; you can register up to five people on one card.

Being a card holder allows you to:

Payments

Your doctor can charge you directly for treatment but the surgey will typically bill you in a process known as bulk billing. The surgery will accept Medicare benefits as payment for the service and you will not be expected to pay for either booking fees, administration fees, record keeping fees or bandages.

If you are paying by bulk bill, you will be expected to sign a form after seeing your doctor and you will be provided with a copy.

When paying, you can either pay the amount directly and claim back the Medicare benefit later using this form or claim your Medicare benefit before you receive treatment.

If you choose to pay beforehand, you will receive a cheque from Medicare made out to your doctor; it is the patient's responsibility to give this to the doctor.

The cost of treatment, known as a Schedule fee, is determined by the government. Currently, this accounts for 85% of the costs of regular treatment, i.e. treatment outside of a hospital, and 75% for hospital treatment.

Privacy

Medicare runs an online service which allows you to manage and update your personal details; you can register for the service once you have received your Medicare card here.

Medicare Services

Medicare offers several services and programs but the most pertinent include

Individuals or families who regularly buy medication throughout the year can be eligible to receive discounts on prescription medications through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

For families with children under the age of seven, the Australian Child Immunisation Register aims to offer financial incentives and ensure a child's immunisation is up to date with their school's requirements.

Anybody wishing to become an organ donor within australia can register their details with the Australian Organ Donor Register.

Private healthcare in Australia

The range of private healthcare options in Australia is similar to the UK; as a private healthcare patient, a holder can choose when and where procedures and appointments take place.

Medibank Private accounts for 30% of all private healthcare patients and is the only national private health fund in the country although others can be compared here.