Australia has one of the best health systems in the world (ranked 1st among 11 OECD countries in terms of equity and health outcomes and 3rd in overall health system performance (1)). Expatriates in Australia can therefore expect to have access to high-quality primary care as well as to specialist care and other health services.
(1) Commonwealth Fund healthcare report 2021
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Health insurance for expats in Australia
How does the healthcare system work in Australia?
Australia’s social security system is financed through residents’ income tax, which guarantees access to care for its insured in the form of Medicare. It is available to, among others:
- Australian and New Zealand citizens
- permanent foreign residents
- temporary residents covered by a Ministerial Order
- citizens or residents of countries with a reciprocal healthcare agreement
Australia’s Medicare system allows its members to seek treatment in public hospitals throughout the country without having to pay upfront (however, beneficiaries are not able to choose their doctors). Medicare also covers 100% of general medical consultations, based on a basic fee (e.g., $75 for a 20-minute consultation) and 85% of the basic fee for specialist consultations. Additional fees for doctors (gap payments) are not covered and must be paid by the patient.
On the other hand, many services that are considered non-essential are not covered by Medicare. These include optical care, dental exams and treatment, speech therapy as well as many outpatient treatments, or out-of-hospital services.
For private, be it scheduled or emergency hospital care, Medicare covers only 75% of the basic fee, with patients being responsible for the remainder of fees, including any additional charges. The same applies for treatment in a public hospital if the patient wishes to choose their own doctor (they are then considered “private patients”).
How to choose health insurance in Australia: local or international?
In order to cover their out-of-pocket expenses, and in particular to be better reimbursed for care provided in the private sector, many Australian citizens and residents choose to take out private health insurance. In order to better regulate access to healthcare in Australia, the Australian government encourages people to use the private healthcare system if they have the possibility to do so; to this end, an additional tax is imposed on high-income people who do not have private health insurance.
Depending on their needs, expats moving to Australia in the medium to long term may be well advised to take out international health insurance. While local private health insurance options are available, international health insurance can cover expats in their home country or other countries, as well as in Australia, and provides dedicated benefits.
What is the cost of healthcare in Australia?
A visit to the doctor will cost you between AUD 50 and 170 (€32 to €115)
APRIL International up to 115 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
EXAMINATION - GASTROSCOPY
A gastroscopy will cost you AUD 6740 or €4555 (doctor + private clinic stay) (2)
APRIL International up to 4555 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
HOSPITALISATION - MATERNITY
An natural delivery without complications costs an average of AUD 8,700 (€5,900) in the private sector
APRIL International up to 5900 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
(2) Medical Costs Finder, Australian Government Department of Health
* Example of reimbursement with MyHealth International - Comfort
** Example of the amount to be paid by the insured after reimbursement
Care in Australia
Choosing hospitals in Australia
Australia has a large number of public and private health centres that offer a high standard of care.
For primary care, there are GPs in private practice as well as walk-in centres, which are open 7 days a week and are completely free of charge for Medicare patients, who are seen quickly by a nursing team (and referred to a doctor or hospital if necessary).
To help you find a doctor or hospital, as well as many other health services, the Australian government provides a web-based platform, Health Direct, which allows you to select professionals according to their speciality, location, and other preferences.
The official Medical Costs Finder platform allows you to evaluate the cost and benefit of a wide range of hospital services, according to several criteria.
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