Health Care, Medicare and Insurance
Australia has a health care system called Medicare. If you are a backpacker or holiday-maker travelling from UK, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Finland, then you are eligible to receive subsidised medicine and treatment by doctors in private surgeries and free treatment in public hospitals through the ownership of a Medicare card.
It is slightly different if you are travelling from Ireland as you are not eligible for inclusion in the Medicare scheme and therefore would have to pay full price for treatment through private doctor surgeries. However you are eligible to receive subsidised medicine and free treatment in public hospitals on presentation of your passport.
The health care agreements between Australia and the above countries do not cover dental and chiropractic services, surgery that is not deemed necessary before returning home, or glasses and eye wear. For this, you will need appropriate travel insurance.
Applying for a Medicare Card:
To apply for a Medicare card you will need to find your nearest Medicare outlet. To do this and to find out more information click here
You can enrol at Medicare offices throughout Australia. If you receive treatment before you enrol, Medicare benefits will be back paid for eligible visitors.
To enrol in Medicare you will need:
- your passport with a valid visa.
If you need to visit a doctor
If you actually need to visit a doctor, you will be presented with a bill. You will then either pay the full amount on the spot or lodge the unpaid bill with Medicare.
If you pay the full bill on the spot to will need to:
- claim back your benefit in person at a Medicare office
- send a completed Medicare claim form, the original doctor’s bill and your receipt for the full amount of the bill to Medicare (GPO Box 9822 in your capital city). Medicare will post a cheque to your last registered address made payable to you to cover Medicare’s portion of the bill
- have your claim processed electronically from your doctor’s practice and have your benefit paid directly into your bank or credit union account by electronic funds transfer, where available.
If you don’t pay the bill straight away you will need to:
- take the unpaid bill together with a completed claim form to a Medicare office, or send it to Medicare by mail to the address shown below. Medicare will send a cheque to your address made payable to the doctor.
- you will be required to take the cheque to your doctor and pay the difference between the Medicare benefit and the total fee charged by the doctor.
GPO Box 9822
in your capital city
Independent travel insurance:
Although not an entirely necessary expenditure, this is certainly a recommended one. Not only because as a backpacker you could be embarking on some risky adventures and activities risking both life and limb in the process, but also because you are constantly moving from one place to another which makes it very easy to leave things behind. You’d be very glad for insurance if you left your camera behind for example.
There are companies which specialise in supplying insurance to backpackers or travellers on extended holidays. They tend to understand the needs of a backpacker better than other insurance companies might.
Below is a list of recommended insurance companies: