Healthcare in Australia

Australian healthcare is of a pretty high standard and fairly similar to the UK's NHS. The state run healthcare system funded by the taxpayer is known as Medicare and is available to everyone living in Australia. In addition to this there are various private health care providers which the Australian government encourages its citizens to take out for instance, dental treatment is provided privately.

Medicare Australia

If you are a permanent citizen of Australia then you can enrol for Medicare. This entitles you to free hospital treatment and subsidised treatment from GPs, some dentists and other health practitioners. The amount you are subsidised is income dependent. Should you need to pay any excess fees, often known as the Medicare Gap, then those on a low income can claim these fees back. Medicare will also cover some of the cost of prescriptions but be prepared to pay some amount towards these.

Typically Medicare will cover 100% of all hospital costs, 75% of GP costs and 85% of any specialist services. Be warned however that Medicare does not cover ambulance costs so if you are taken to hospital by ambulance you may get a transportation bill which can be as much as $900 in some parts of Australia! (Although Queensland residents get ambulance cover for free throughout Australia.)

Medicare also covers visitors to Australia from certain countries that Australia has signed a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) with. These countries are:

· UK
· Sweden
· Netherlands
· Belgium
· Finland
· Norway
· Slovenia
· Malta
· Italy
· Republic of Ireland
· New Zealand

Private Healthcare Australia

It is estimated that nearly half of all Australians supplement their free Medicare with private health cover. This is because the Australian government encourage its citizens to take up private insurance wherever possible by introducing incentives such as the Private Health Insurance Rebate which offers a 30% subsidy of insurance premiums, rising to as much as 40% for those people aged over 65. There is also a Lifetime Health Cover which encourages people to take out private insurance whilst young and benefit from low premiums.

There are different levels of private healthcare in Australia such as:

· Ancillary Cover which provides cover for treatments that Medicare does not. These include opticians, dentists, physiotherapy, etc

· Hospital Cover which will cover the cost of your room, treatment, consultant fees and so on, however this is dependent on the type of cover you have in place.

Of the private healthcare providers in Australia there are those run for profit and those run not for profit. The main profitable company is Australian Unity whilst the two larger not for profit organisations are the HCF and the HBF Health Fund. There are also smaller providers that are restricted to certain sectors such as teachers.

Most Australians use comparison websites to find the best insurance deal, but Private Healthcare Australia also has essential provider information.

It is highly recommended if you are moving to Australia that you sign up to Medicare and take out additional private insurance to cover the services that Medicare does not. Details of how to sign up for Medicare are contained on the Australian DIAC website.

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