Medicare – Everything you need to know about Australian health care

Medicare is Australia’s version of the NHS in England. We as Brits are extremely lucky to be offered this service for free. Other backpackers have to pay hundreds of Dollars to even be seen in an A&E.

I can not emphasis this enough, if you are from the following countries then PLEASE SIGN UP TO MEDICARE!!

I had 3 surgeries and one dislocated knee and I did not pay a penny! I was seen the same day I was admitted into Hospital and 2 out of the 3 times I had surgery within a few hours. 

Australia’s health care is so good and it is free for the countries above so please please please register for it as it could save you hundreds of dollars if anything happens to you.

Before one of my operations a German guy had been admitted to A&E after getting a Pool Que in the eye and he tried to leave after a long wait and he was billed around $800 for just being admitted.


 To Apply for Medicare you will need to go to one of their offices and supply the below information. Once you have applied they will give you a temporary card with your medicare number on it, your official card will be sent to the Australian address you have supplied during the application process, this normally takes between 2-3 weeks. 

Take a photo of this number, text it to your family or simply do not lose the card. You will need this number every time you are seen by a doctor and its hard to access it once you have lost it.

Search on the following website for a Medicare centre near you  Click Here<<

To be eligible for Medicare you must:

  • Be a resident in any of the above countries immediately before arriving in Australia

Documents you need to enrol in Medicare:

  • A current passport – includes those issued in Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • Visa documents
  • Australian address ( use a hostel’s address you will be for a long time)

How long your cover lasts:

It starts the day you arrive in Australia.

When it ends depends on the country you’re visiting from. You can only use it while you have a valid visa.

It ends on the day your visa expires if you’re from:

  • Finland
  • Norway
  • the Republic of Ireland
  • Sweden
  • the UK

It ends on the day your European Health Insurance Card expires, or the day your visa expires if earlier, if you’re from:

  • Belgium
  • the Netherlands
  • Slovenia

If you’re from Italy or Malta, it ends:

    • after 6 months
    • the day your European Health Insurance Card expires, or
    • the day your visa expires, if earlier


If you’re in Australia on a student visa, you’re eligible to enrol in Medicare.

If you’re a student from one of these countries

You’re not covered if you’re a student from:

  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • the Republic of Ireland


If you’re from any of the other agreement countries it covers:

  • medically necessary care out of hospital
  • medically necessary care as a public patient in a public hospital
  • prescription medicines at a lower price – this is the general rate for drugs in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Seeing the doctor:

You can see a doctor in a private practice or a community health centre. It is up to the doctor how they charge you for the service.

They can charge you by:

  • giving you a bill to pay – most doctors in private practice do this
  • sending the bill straight to Medicare – This is called bulk billing (you must be enrolled in Medicare)

Bulk Billing is a must!! This allows the doctor the send the whole bill straight to medicare ensuring that you will not have a thing. Show your reciprocal health care card and sign a Medicare form after you see the doctor, you won’t need to pay.

If you are at a private doctor the chances are you will have to pay the whole consultation cost which is usually around $70, or you will be able to claim a percentage back from medicare which is around 32%.

If you do get caught out and have to pay on the day:

You can,

Medicare can only pay the money into an Australian bank account.

Going to hospital:

You will need your passport or reciprocal health care card. Tell them you want care as a public patient.

As a public patient in a public hospital you won’t have to pay for your stay or treatment there.

You’ll need to pay the full fees if you choose care:

  • as a private patient in a public hospital
  • in a private hospital

You can’t claim these fees back from Medicare.

Everything Medicare related can be found Here.


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