In Australia, healthcare is public. Citizens pay taxes (around 1.5% ends up in the health system) and in this way Australians are entitled to free basic assistance, so hospitalization and general medical visits are included or refunded by the health insurance, known as Medicare.
Everything else is paid, like the ambulance, dentist and optician. For this reason, many Australians subscribe to private insurance policies, which gives them the right to ambulance and other services, including specialist visits and even the optician and the dentist, depending on the coverage. For those who are not residents in Australia there is not much choice: sooner or later if you are a visitor in Australia it is better (or in some cases required) to subscribe to health insurance. Actually, there is not much difference between one insurance and another, just choose the one which is the most convenient according to your visa and people covered by the same medical insurance.
Once you’ve arrived in Australia on a working holiday visa or a tourist visa, make sure you sign up as soon as possible for Medicare Australia, free medical insurance coverage system valid for 6 months, starting form the day you set foot in the country. The mutual healthcare agreement signed between some countries and Australia, entitles you to discounts on all the necessary medical treatment such as diseases and injuries that may happen during your stay in Australia.
Australian Medicare coverage
- Full coverage fee for GP services
- 85% of medical service fees outside the hospital
- 75% of hospital fee
For example, if you request a health service in a public hospital, you don’t have to pay, whereas if you go to a private doctor or to a community health center, you will pay the service and be refunded a percentage of the medical expenses (through Bulk Billing or a tax invoice that you must show to the nearest Medicare centre). In any case, it’s always better not to go to the hospital for the flu, general doctor’s visit, blood test, gynaecolagical visit etc. but go to the dozens of clinics spread around all cities, known as medical centers, which are like little hospitals, and avoid unexpected expenses and waiting hours before visiting.
What Medicare Australia does not cover
Health coverage is only valid for illnesses and injuries that occur during your stay in Australia, so you cannot use it for pre-existing diseases and disorders. Similarly, you cannot rely on Medicare for ambulance services, non-subsidized medicines from public health, dentist, day hospital in private hospitals, eye doctor, cosmetic surgery, physiotherapy, speech therapy, chiropractic and psychology.
How to sign up to Medicare Australia
Getting your free health coverage is simple, you just need to visit any Medicare center in Australia with your passport, visa and Italian tax code and sign up to Australian Medicare. After filling in the registration form, which can be found directly at a Medicare office or be downloaded from the website, you need to consign it to the Medicare help desk. Make sure you have a valid Australian address to receive by post you Medicare card (usually within a couple of weeks). As long as you haven’t obtained it yet, you will be given a voucher with a temporary card number, which you can use immediately.