Health care in Australia is provided by both private and government institutions.
The service provided by the Australian Government is called Medicare.
If you are eligible to be covered under the Medicare Scheme in Australia then it will usually cover:
- Free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists and in specific circumstances dentists and other allied health practitioners.
- Free treatment and accommodation as a public patient in a public hospital.
- 75 per cent of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital (does not include hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines)
- Some health care services in certain countries.
You can check here if you are eligible for the Medicare Scheme.
Click here to enrol for Medicare.
The term used for free treatment under Medicare system is bulk billing. When you make an appointment with a doctor, you can check if the doctor is bulk-billed for the medical service you are seeking. You will need to provide your Medicare card so that you don’t need to pay anything out of pocket.
If doctor is not bulk-billed then you need to the pay service fee directly to the provider and claim back 75-85% of this from Medicare Scheme using your Medicare card.
As per my experience, Sydney has more bulk billing doctors than Melbourne. There are less bulk billing doctors available in affluent areas and remote or regional areas. I found Medical care and Private health insurance to be more expensive in Melbourne than Sydney.
Most people use the public health system during pregnancy and minor or elective surgery as Australia has an adequate public health system.
Despite the benefit of the Medicare System, people also choose private health insurance which is beneficial if you want to go to a private hospital. In this scenario, part of the cost is covered by Medicare and part of the cost is covered by health insurance depending on the health insurance cover. Depending on your level of private health insurance cover, you might need to pay an excess on admission to hospital, plus some out of pocket expenses.
Having private health insurance can also give tax benefits which are income tested.
A list of Private Health funds is located here