Guide to Health Insurance in Australia

Whether you’re looking to relocate to Australia or just looking for a new international health insurance provider, it’s essential to know about the standard of healthcare available in the country so that you can make an informed decision about medical insurance.

Australia has a population of 22.6 million, with a male life expectancy of 79 years and a female life expectancy of 84. These high rates of life expectancy are mirrored by a robust universal healthcare system.

Australia’s health system is known as Medicare, which is operated by the Australian government, and funded by both the government and the taxpayer. This system pays for all hospital fees, 75 per cent of GP fees and a large proportion of specialist care.

The 2000 World Health Organisation ranked Australia’s health care system at 32. With a developed demographic, an ageing population and one of the highest average life expectancy rates, this country has the high level of medical care you would expect.

Healthcare facilities

The Medicare system mixes public and private elements to help provide subsidies for prescriptions and hospital in-patient charges, and also to help the government subsidise insurance premiums for those on private health insurance. As a result, going private is a particularly attractive option in Australia. 

This healthcare mix has helped to avoid the shortfalls of both public-only and private-only systems, while highlighting the advantages of each. Insurance premiums are also based on ‘pool risk’ and not policyholder risk, and with this and many private insurers to choose from, premiums stay low.

Australia has reciprocal healthcare agreements with many other nations such as the UK, with a process similar to how the European Health Insurance Card works in the EU. This cover applies to emergencies and necessary treatment, for example emergency surgery and in-patient care, and should not be used as a substitute for travel insurance. 

Medicare does not cover dental costs, which makes it necessary to take out insurance. You don’t have to register in order to receive dental treatment, but costs can be high so make sure you research your options.

There are roughly 750 public hospitals and 500 private hospitals boasting state-of-the-art technology and equipment, together with highly-rated nursing and patient care. There have, however, been reports of bed shortages in public hospitals – a problem which is common throughout many developed nations.

Living in remote locations can be a problem, though there are mobile practitioners such as the Flying Doctor Service.

Before you go

You must contact your medical practitioner eight weeks before your travel to Australia to see if you need any vaccinations or other medical preventatives. Please be aware of viruses such as Ross River Fever (RRF) – take the necessary precautions.

Next steps

You can receive a quote for one of our WorldCare plans to cover your time in Australia, with treatment access available from anywhere in the world. Purchase and management of your plan can be done online – it’s an easy and quick way to get instant comprehensive cover.

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