Health insurance in Australia


Vous souhaitez vous expatrier en Australie ? Pour découvrir une nouvelle culture, pour une opportunité professionnelle ou pour repartir de 0 ? Vous voulez en savoir plus sur le coût de la santé, les vaccins à réaliser où l’accessibilité des soins ? Mondassur répond à toutes vos questions dans cet article sur la santé en Australie. Vous souhaitez vous expatrier en Australie ? Pour découvrir une nouvelle culture, pour une opportunité professionnelle ou pour repartir de 0 ? Vous voulez en savoir plus sur le coût de la santé, les vaccins à réaliser où l’accessibilité des soins ? Mondassur répond à toutes vos questions dans cet article sur la santé en Australie.


Australia’s health care system

Ranked among the top 10 health care systems in the world, Australia has a state-of-the-art health care infrastructure and qualified health care staff. The government ensures that the entire population has access to free healthcare. On the one hand, Australia has a national drug benefit plan to enable patients to reduce their health care costs. On the other hand, the government encourages its affluent population to seek health care privately and by overtaxing the uninsured. These taxes are used to finance the part of the poorest population that cannot afford to access health care.

How does the health system and local insurance work in Australia?

Since 1984, the health system in Australia has been based on a health insurance system called Medicare. This is a universal health insurance scheme exclusively for Australian citizens and foreigners with permanent resident status. This universal health insurance scheme provides citizens and permanent residents with free access to outpatient and inpatient care. It also provides free or minimally subsidised access to dental, optometric and psychological services. This universal coverage may apply discounts in some cases for treatments by specialists: physiotherapists, dieticians or speech therapists. Medicare is financed by income taxes on Australian employees with income above a certain threshold (up to 2% of salary).
The benefits covered by Medicare are :

  • Consultations with a general practitioner or specialist
  • Hospital admissions;
  • Treatment prescribed by a doctor (tests, examinations, surgery, etc.);
  • Eye tests performed by optometrists.

Other treatments are only reimbursed by Medicare under certain conditions.
Some countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and the UK have signed bilateral agreements with Australia. Thus, expatriates from these countries can benefit in part from Medicare directly. However, the coverage offered is less attractive than that available to Australian citizens or permanent residents: only essential care will be covered by Medicare.

Why buy private international insurance for expatriates in Australia?

  • Buying Medicare while expatriating requires obtaining permanent resident status. While waiting to obtain permanent resident status, it is highly recommended that you take out international health insurance to cover you for the period when you will not yet have access to Medicare.
  • It is strongly recommended that you take out supplementary insurance to Medicare in any case, as it only partially covers non-essential care such as paramedical care. Medicare reimbursement rates are attractive for standard GP consultations and emergency hospitalization.

How do I get permanent resident status in Australia?

To apply for universal health cover through Medicare, you will need to obtain permanent resident status. Obtaining this status is not easy, as only certain visas will allow you to be eligible for permanent resident status:

  • Either obtain a work visa that allows you to obtain permanent resident status (not all visas will grant status). Obtaining a work visa to qualify for permanent resident status is quite complex in Australia. For example, for the Employer Nomination Scheme 186 visa, you will need to be sponsored by your Australian employer. There are quite high fees and applications can take up to 20 months to process. If you do not yet have an employer, the visa application can be processed over 36 months;
  • Reunification’ for a couple where one is a permanent resident, or if your parent or son is an Australian citizen;
  • Or become a permanent resident for your retirement: the government has provided a pathway for foreign retirees to join Medicare on a criteria basis that defines their eligibility.

What vaccinations should I get before I move to Australia?

As soon as you get the date of your departure to Australia, we strongly advise you to make an appointment with your doctor to review your vaccinations. Update your standard vaccinations to ensure that you can leave with peace of mind. There are no local diseases that require vaccination for Australia. Check that the following vaccines are up to date:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Hepatitis A & B

If you are visiting South America, you should get a yellow fever vaccination, as Australia requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers from countries where yellow fever can be transmitted.
If you plan to travel to rural areas in the northernmost part of Australia, we recommend that you get a Japanese encephalitis vaccination.

How do I see a GP or specialist in Australia?

Consultation with a GP

To see a GP in Australia, we recommend that you make an appointment in advance rather than going without one. To choose your doctor, you can get a recommendation from a medical officer on the website of your embassy in Australia. You can also look at forums or private expat groups that will recommend a GP based on their own experience.
In Australia, GPs will never prescribe more medication than you need. On the contrary, for common minor illnesses such as colds etc. they will encourage you to rest and drink plenty of water to cure the illness naturally. However, they will also not hesitate to prescribe antibiotics or medication if your condition really needs it. The cost of a standard consultation with a general practitioner ranges from $35 to $60 AUD (30 to 45 euros).

Consultation with a specialist doctor

To see a specialist doctor, you will need to go through the GP or directly to the hospital. If the GP determines that you need to see a specialist, he or she will write a referral letter for you to give to the specialist when you see him or her. Without this referral letter, you will not be eligible for reimbursement by your insurance.
The average cost of a consultation with a specialist is $160 AUD for the first consultation and $60 AUD for subsequent consultations.
In Australia, consultations and eye examinations are done directly with an optometrist. The average cost of a consultation with an optometrist is between $50 and $70 AUD.

Medical practices in Australia

In Australia, you will find many medical practices with a wide range of health care providers such as general practitioners, paediatricians, gynaecologists, psychologists, nurses etc. Sometimes these are general practitioners who also specialise in paediatrics, maternity etc. These medical practices are called “Medical Practice” or “Family Practice”. Sometimes these are general practitioners who also specialise in paediatrics, maternity etc. These practices are called “Medical Practice” or “Family Practice”. Doctors who specialise in a second medical field limit the use of specialist doctors when this is not necessary.

Hospitals in Australia

In Australia, you can go to public or private hospitals for treatment. Some hospitals will specialise in children’s care, maternity care etc. However, the majority of these hospitals are located close to major cities. If you move further into the Australian bush, access to care and the number of medical facilities will be greatly reduced. In addition, the distances you have to travel to get to a hospital will be greater, so consider this before you move away from the major cities. Health care in hospitals is of a high quality, you will be taken care of by qualified health personnel. However, hospital costs in Australia are very high.
Without supplementary insurance, you can quickly find yourself paying a lot of money to access health care, especially in private hospitals. Public hospitals are usually quite full, so there is always a wait for treatment. The majority of the Australian population goes to public hospitals because their compulsory Medicare health insurance covers them.

Popular hospitals in Australia

The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is the largest hospital in Sydney and the most renowned in terms of quality of care. It is the most ‘public patient’ hospital in Australia. These are the patients who receive 100% coverage of the hospital costs incurred. The hospital specialises in cancer treatment, maternity, rheumatology and orthopaedics.

The Alfred University Hospital in Melbourne offers quality care. It has the largest and most efficient intensive care unit in Australia and specialises in a wide range of medical areas including oncology, cardiology, neurosurgery and psychiatry. Lung transplant operations are common in this facility due to the quality of its state-of-the-art medical equipment.

The emergency system in Australia

The emergency number in Australia is 000. Emergency management in Australia is quite good. When you arrive at the emergency department, a nurse will diagnose you and depending on the degree of urgency, you will be treated more or less quickly. Waiting times are shorter in the private sector than in the public sector. This is why we advise you as an expatriate to take out private international health insurance as they often have agreements with private hospitals.

How to treat your child in Australia?

The paediatric service in Australia is not the best in the world. In fact, Australia has less than 1000 paediatricians in practice. Moreover, these paediatricians are grouped around the major cities only. Finding a paediatrician outside of a major city can be very difficult. If you absolutely need a paediatrician, you can search for one on Australian health provider search engines. You can also refer to hospitals that specialise in children’s care and recommend paediatricians in your area. Finally, you can ask the nurses, as they will usually know which paediatricians are in your area.

Dental consultations in Australia

Dentists in Australia are free to charge whatever prices they wish. This means that the price range varies depending on the dentist, the state in which he/she operates etc. But on average, dental operations cost much more than in other countries.

Examples of prices according to expatriates:

  • Standard dental consultation: $45
  • Scaling: $250
  • Permanent tooth decay treatment: $600 – $800

We advise you to take out international health insurance or a supplementary insurance policy and to include the reimbursement of dental costs as they can quickly become out of your budget.

Examples of medical costs in Australia

This table gives you an idea of average hospital costs in Australia:

  • Ultrasound: $100 – $1000 AUD
  • Blood test: $130 AUD
  • Hospitalization: $1500 – $2500 AUD / day
  • Intensive care : From $4500 AUD
  • Medical Visit: $90 AUD
  • MRI: $215 AUD

Pharmacies in Australia

There are three main pharmacy chains in Australia that you can visit if you need to:

  • Amcal ;
  • Priceline;
  • Terry White.

The pharmacists will let you buy medicines even without a prescription or doctor’s note if they think you need them. They are also the ones you can turn to if you want them to recommend another health care provider or facility.

Maternity in Australia

Are you pregnant and wondering how maternity care works in Australia? We’ll explain how the maternity system works in Australia.
Some hospitals in Australia have excellent maternity facilities, practising various natural childbirth methods such as the use of hot baths, relaxing gases and only as a last resort the epidural. If you want to give birth with an epidural, you should notify this early in your pregnancy. In addition, Caesarean sections are widely used in Australia, and you can easily be offered one, and your husband will be allowed to stay in the delivery room during the operation. In Australia, you will need to see a general practitioner rather than a gynaecologist.

In total you will be offered two ultrasounds ($150 – $200 AUD), you may also request a 3D ultrasound which is quite common in Australia but has a cost ($500 AUD) and is not covered by insurance. In addition to these ultrasound scans, you will usually have two blood tests.

The choice of public or private sector is up to you. If you are insured by Medicare, you will only be reimbursed if you give birth in a public hospital. With an international health insurance policy such as GoldExpat, you will have many private hospitals contracted with your insurer.

You will be offered childbirth classes given by hospital midwives. You will also be offered free physiotherapy for 6 months after you give birth.

The cost of pregnancy in Australia

The cost of an uncomplicated pregnancy varies depending on many factors. Here are some examples of the average costs of pregnancy care in Australia:
Antenatal care and visit to a doctor/visit: $100 AUD
Antenatal ultrasound: $200 AUD
Natural birth: $9000 AUD
Caesarean delivery: $14,000 AUD

OSHC student health insurance in Australia

If you are a student and wish to study in Australia, you will be required to take out OSHC (OverSeas Health Cover). This insurance is quite similar to basic social security coverage, it will cover you for standard health care such as emergency hospitalization and health consultations. But the reimbursement rates are relatively low.
Also, extra fees, repatriation, civil liability and specialist doctors are not covered. Finally, you will only be covered by this insurance if you are treated in public institutions. This is why it is recommended that you take out a student  health insurance in order to be covered at better rates and especially to be covered in case of medical repatriation.

Is it necessary to take out international health insurance for Australia?

You are planning to expatriate to Australia and you are wondering if you should take out a private international health insurance? The answer is yes, especially for Australia. On the one hand, any visa for Australia requires health insurance to cover you for the entire duration of your stay. On the other hand, in order to benefit from the universal Medicare system, you must obtain permanent resident status beforehand. Completing the application for permanent resident status takes a minimum of three months. In addition, once you have permanent resident status, you will still need to apply for Medicare coverage.
This means that once you are here, if you are not covered by private health insurance and you need to be hospitalised, you will have to pay the full cost of your medical expenses. Medical care in Australia is of excellent quality, but the cost of this care is extremely high. International health insurance is necessary and should be part of your expatriation plan.

What health insurance should I buy when moving to Australia and for whom?

Whatever your profile, you need private health insurance if you want to obtain a visa to go to Australia.

  • Are you a nomadic worker or do you simply want to go to Australia for tourism? Whatever your motivation, you will need to apply for a tourist visa. To obtain this visa, it is mandatory that you purchase travel insurance to cover you for medical expenses in Australia. Our Gold Nomad travel insurance meets all the requirements for your stay in Australia.
  • If you wish to go to Australia on a WHP, it is essential that you take out private international health insurance which will allow you to be taken care of in the private sector in case of hospitalization in Australia without breaking the bank. It will also allow you to benefit from medical repatriation abroad or to your home country in case of serious hospitalisation. Our GoldStart insurance is suitable for your profile and will allow you to fully enjoy your WHP without worrying.
  • If you are an expatriate employee with a Temporary Skill Shortage TSS visa (or 482 visa) for Australia, we offer you an expatriate health insurance that will cover you for private health expenses and medical repatriation if necessary abroad and in your home country. Our health insurance allows you to be eligible for the TSS visa if you meet the other requirements.
  • If you are retired, for any retirement visa (spouse visa, family reunion visa, investor visa, sponsored visa or retirement visa) it is mandatory that you take out expatriate health insurance to validate your visa.

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