Australia has a public/private healthcare partnership. The Government funded healthcare system is Medicare and is generally restricted to people living permanently in Australia:
- Australian citizens;
- permanent Australian residents (who have permanent visas);
- New Zealand citizens; or
- certain persons with applications for permanent visas under consideration
Medicare entitles you to subsidised, or free health care in public hospitals and GPs surgeries. Tip: If you have a permanent residency visa you should register with the local Medicare office as soon as you arrive - you will have to pay all medical bills otherwise.
Visitors from some countries are also eligible for Medicare - but only those visiting from countries with a reciprocal healthcare agreement (Ireland, Italy, Finland, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Under these Agreements, residents of these countries have restricted access to Medicare while visiting Australia. To see what is and what isn't covered under the reciprocal agreement - look at the WA Health Dept website.
Tip: If you have relatives visiting for more than 2 weeks, register them with the local Medicare office as soon as they arrive and they will get their own temporary Medicare card.
Temporary residents (temporary or business visas - basically, any visa not permanent) are not eligible for Medicare and must make private arrangements to cover any medical costs. Check on the Health Dept website to confirm your visa eligibility. There are a range of private health insurance products that can be bought.
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