Health Coverage Guide
Health Insurance Information for Expats in Australia
Australia has both public and private health care available. Limited public health care is available to overseas visitors from some countries. Aside from this, it is recommended to get private health insurance while you are in Australia. It is relatively affordable, depending on the coverage you need. In Australia, companies do not provide insurance.Like the US, Australia pledged a health care reform starting in 2010. Essentially by bringing all of the different state run health organisations under a federal banner, they are promising increased service and patient care. Compared to many other countries Australia’s health system is at a high standard; however, there is still room for improvement.
We do recommend that most expats obtain an international health insurance policy, especially if they are not eligible for a local plan in Australia. You can get more information via our quote page.
As an expat, you will be eligible for Medicare (Australia’s public health care system) if you become an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or if you hold a temporary visa (that carries the right to work in Australia, and you have applied for a permanent visa).
Most expats enrol in Medicare upon receiving the right to do so. However, once you do this you will be liable for a “Medicare Levy” when it comes tax time. It is highly recommended expats enrol in Medicare, and once enrolled seek additional private health coverage. Having private health insurance will negate any costs of the Medicare Levy at tax time, and the fees associated with private health insurance can be claimed for a significant refund.
To enrol in Medicare you need to fill out an enrolment form, available at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/information/welcome-medicare-customers-website. Forms are also available from your local Medicare office. When you enrol, you need to show original or certified copies of documents such as a birth certificate or passport to prove your identity, as well as a copy of your visa (or grant letter) to prove your eligibility.
Some countries have a reciprocal relationship with Australian Medicare. This means that citizens of the following countries are eligible for Medicare Coverage:
- United Kingdom
- Republic of Ireland
- New Zealand
However, there’s usually a catch. For example, the agreements with the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand are less comprehensive than with the other states. In all cases, coverage under reciprocal Medicare is limited to treatment that is “medically necessary during your visit.” Under Australian law, this basically translates to “you will die in our country unless we pay for this treatment.”
Holders of the Retirement visa (subclass 410) are excluded from reciprocal Medicare unless they first applied for their visa before 1 December 1998. Student visa holders are generally not covered by Medicare and are required to take out Overseas Student Health Cover.
All Australians over the age of 30 are encouraged to have private health insurance. A quick and easy way to compare health coverage policies from some of Australia’s leading health funds is to visit the website http://www.iselect.com.au. It is a free service that will help you compare costs and select the policy that best fits you and your family’s needs. Basic cover for a single adult starts at around $12 per week.
It is not required to be affiliated with a private hospital.
Some of the largest health insurance companies in Australia are as follows:
Phone 134 135
Phone 131 314
Phone 134 190
Phone 131 642
List of all private health insurers in Australia http://www.privatehealth.gov.au