Healthcare in Australia

Last updated: November 20, 2019

Healthcare in Australia is a hybrid of both public and private service. Most people who come to live and work in Australia will have to pay for healthcare, although there are exceptions: the UK is part of  the Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) where healthcare can be free or subsidised. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the healthcare in Australia.

Is Healthcare in Australia Required?

In order to receive a grant for a visa when moving to Australia to live and work, it is mandatory to prove to the Australian authorities you have the minimum level of private health insurance. In Australia the basic healthcare is called Medicare. Health care in Australia is approximately 70% funded by the government, the other 30% percent is covered by the states and territories of Australia. Even if part of a health agreement, such as RHCA expats are still required to take out health insurance cover in order to qualify for the visa.


The Medicare scheme provides free care in public hospitals and also to subsidised medicines. Medicare costs vary dependant on the level of your income. Every resident in Australia has access to medicare, as an expat you must sign up within 7-10 days of your arrival if wanting to take advantage of their health care. You will then receive a Medicare card within 3 weeks

Private health insurance

Over half of the residents in Australia have private health care insurance which is a supplement to Medicare. Most residents take out the extra insurance to cover certain aspects that Medicare doesn’t cover, such as optical care, physiotherapy and dentists. Private health insurance in Australia is now compulsory for expats and can be very expensive! In some cases can be more than 500 AUD for a months comprehensive coverage.

healthcare in Australia

Health Insurance in Australia

Because Australia is not an EU country, you are not covered with your EHIC card. You will have to make automatic use of Medicare, the basic health insurance in Australia. You can request free Medicare card in one of the Medicare offices in Australia. This is similar to a health insurance card and allows you to access free medical care. To apply for this, you need:

  • European Health Insurance Card
  • Valid passport and visa

Private healthcare

Medicare does not cover all costs; therefore private insurance is recommended. The largest insurers in Australia include:

  • Hospital Contribution  Fund (HCF)
  • Medibank Private
  • Medical Benefit Funds  (MBF)
  • National Mutual Health Insurance

The largest of these insurers is Medibank Private. With most insurance you can choose from three different types of insurance: basic, intermediate or comprehensive cover.

Public healthcare

Medicare is covers the following costs:

  • free treatment and stay in a public hospital;
  • partial financing of certain medications;
  • partially offset the cost of medical care for example, by a doctor or specialist.

Health care in Australia

Reciprocal Health Agreements

Expats who originate from countries that have reciprocal health agreements (RHCA), such as the UK, with Australia can receive:

  • Free treatment at a public hospital either as an in-patient or outpatient
  • Subsidised medicines
  • Medical treatment by doctors at surgeries and community health centres

When a tourist in Australia the government don’t allow visitors from certain countries, including the UK, access to Medicare health care due to the RHCA. A person must have permanent residence before they can apply for Medicare

What Next?

The healthcare system in Australia is well known as being exceptional. Are you thinking about migrating to Australia? Find out more information on our page moving to Australia