Australian Health System

The Australian healthcare system is made up of two parts- the public and private system.

Public Healthcare System

The public healthcare system is run by the government and is called Medicare. Medicare covers things such as:

  • Seeing a specialist
  • Seeing a doctor
  • Get x-rays, blood tests and medical tests
  • Prescription medication
  • Treatment in a public hospital

Medicare is only available to overseas workers who come from a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia and only covers medically necessary treatment.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia

Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, Norway, New Zealand, Malta, Italy, Finland and Belgium. Residents from these countries are entitled to Reciprocal Medicare while in Australia.

Reciprocal Medicare covers medically necessary treatment only and can only be applied for once an individual is within Australia so it is recommended that health cover is maintained for the duration of an individual’s visa.

Private Healthcare System

The private healthcare system is made up of private hospitals, private health insurers and health providers such as dentists and optometrists. Some of the things that the private healthcare system includes are:

  • Treatment in a private hospital
  • Ambulance trip
  • Dentistry, optometry and physiotherapy

General Practitioners and Specialists

In Australia, doctors can be either General Practitioners (GPs) or Specialist Physicians. In order to visit a Specialist Physician such as an Orthopaedic Surgeon, you must first visit a GP and obtain a referral.

Most minor medical issues can be treated by a General Practitioner who can prescribe medication. Generally you will only go straight to hospital if you have an emergency or major accident.