20 February 2018
Healthcare in Australia
A common concern for wannabe migrants to Australia is the healthcare system and how it operates.
Unlike the UK you will be expected to contribute to the cost of healthcare in Australia should you require it. For this reason many Australians hold private healthcare insurance.
How does Medicare compare to the NHS?
The Australian Government's public healthcare system is called Medicare and it is accessible to Australian citizens and permanent residents.
For day-to-day medical matters you will visit a GP. Public hospitals in Australia are used in the same way as in the UK, with the emergency department handling urgent cases and specialist areas treating long-term illnesses. Care received in public hospitals is fully covered by Medicare.
What is the cost of healthcare in Australia?
Most people will pay a small fee to see a GP in Australia, with the average cost being around $50 AUD - $80 AUD a visit. Approximately half of the cost is reclaimable through Medicare. Many GP surgeries will offer bulk billing which means the doctor bills the Government directly and the patient is only charged the reclaimable fee. The elderly and low-income earners who hold a Government-issued healthcare card are always bulk billed.
In most instances if you are prescribed medication then the Australian Government's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) covers a significant amount of the cost. Unlike the NHS in Scotland, you will be expected to contribute towards the cost of prescribed medication.
Medicare does not cover Ambulance, Dental care or most Optical treatments. Some Australian states will fund ambulances through an annual levy, however others charge between $300 AUD and $2,000 AUD for an emergency ambulance callout. Most Australians will hold ambulance cover as part of their private health insurance.
You may also find that some GP's or specialists charge more than the scheduled Medicare fee and you will need to cover the difference in price (known as the "gap").
Do I need private health insurance?
Private healthcare insurance is additional health cover designed to complement the Medicare system. Depending on the policy chosen, private health insurance can cover a large part of the costs not otherwise covered by Medicare. Many Australians will use their insurance to cover hospital, ambulance, dental and optical costs. General alternate treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage are popular options also.
Additionally, most private healthcare holders opt to use private hospitals which generally gives them access to their choice of doctor, a wider range of facilities and reduced waiting times. With over half the Australian population choosing private health cover it's an important consideration for anyone wanting to take up residence in Australia.
At Visa Bureau we work with Alex Rice at Bupa Healthcare to offer our clients access to specialised information. Bupa are an internationally recognised health care provider with 4.2 million customers in Australia alone. They can offer an exclusive network of private hospitals and specialists, as well as access to bulk billing doctors and consultants.
Bupa have a comprehensive range of healthcare policies available to most visa holders. If you would like to discuss your options you can meet Alex at our London Australian Migration Seminar.
You can read more about Medicare on the Australian Government website.