Australian citizens and permanent residents have a public health system called Medicare that they pay for through their taxes. This means that when they have treatment or surgery in a public hospital as a public patient it doesn't cost them a cent. Medicare subsidises some non-hospital treatments and health expenses as well.
Medicare covers things such as:
- Treatments as a public patient in a public hospital.
- Part of doctors and specialist consultation fees.
Medicare is only available for Australian citizens and permanent residents. For people who are in Australia from a country who has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA), partial Medicare is available for essential medical procedures.
Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement
Some countries have a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement (RHCA) with Australia that entitles their citizens to Medicare eligibility, but even citizens who are eligible for Australian Medicare under an RHCA are only covered for public hospital treatment that is medically essential. RHCA's do not cover treatment in private hospitals.
Working or temporary graduate visa visitors to Australia who want private hospital cover in Australia (or who are citizens of countries that do not have an RHCA with Australia) must obtain a Department of Immigration-approved overseas visitor health cover such as Frank's Minimum Working Visa cover before they arrive in Australia.
Countries with Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements
Participating RHCA countries are:
You can find out more information on the Australian government site.
If you are eligible for reciprocal Medicare, you should consider maintaining your Frank cover too. Your Frank cover will ensure you are covered for non-essential admissions, like investigative procedures, as well as emergency ambulance services and private hospital admissions.
Visits to the GP
Costs from visits to the local doctor (GP) are not claimable through private health insurance. Visits to the GP are subsidised by Medicare for Overseas Visitors with reciprocal health care agreements. Doctors can choose to "bulk bill" patients for the service or issue the patient with an account.
Bulk billing is when the doctor sends Medicare the bill for the full payment for their service. The patient isn't charged anything. With patient accounts, the doctor charges the patient directly and the patient can claim benefits back from Medicare for this cost.
Medicare Levy Surcharge
Overseas visitors who have reciprocal health care agreements may be required to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge if they earn over the threshold. The Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) is a surcharge on individuals and families on higher incomes who don't have eligible hospital cover.
The MLS is an additional tax that needs to be paid if you don't have eligible hospital cover and have a taxable income over $90,000 as a single of $180,000 as a couple/family. It can be up to 1.5% extra tax depending on your income.
People may have to pay the Medicare levy surcharge if they or any of their dependants do not have eligible cover and they are:
- A single person - without dependent children - with a taxable income (including any reportable fringe benefits of $1,000 or more) greater than $90,000.
- A family - including a couple and single parent - with a combined taxable income (including any reportable fringe benefits of $1,000 or more) greater than $180,000 (increasing by $1,500 per dependent child, after the first child).
Frank's Minimum Working Visa cover is not an eligible hospital cover when it comes to the Medicare Levy Surcharge and will not exempt an overseas visitor from paying the tax (if their taxable income is above the listed amounts).
Non-hospital treatment and other health expenses
A second type of private health insurance, Extras cover, helps cover the cost of healthcare-related expenses charged by non-hospital healthcare professionals such as dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists, physiotherapists and more. Medicare usually does not cover non-hospital treatments and services such as these. Australian citizens who need these services either pay for them in full or buy Extras cover from a private health insurer to help pay for the cost. Working or student visa visitors to Australia have the same choice.
Frank's Minimum Working Visa cover includes emergency ambulance cover, but doesn't include any other extras coverage. You can opt to buy separate extras cover from Frank when you arrive in Australia.