The Australian Government helps you to pay some medical and hospital expenses through a national health care scheme called Medicare. Under Medicare, treatment and accommodation is free if you are a public patient in a public hospital, treated by a doctor appointed by the hospital. Medicare helps with the costs of your visits to health professionals (such as doctors, specialists, optometrists and in some circumstances dentists and other allied health professionals). If you see a doctor often, or have tests regularly, your medical costs could be high. Visiting a doctor or having tests may cost you less once you reach a Medicare Safety Net threshold.
Migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants generally have immediate access to health care under Medicare, depending on their visa. Other temporary migrants may have to hold private health insurance.
Some doctors and health professionals bulk bill. For bulk billed visits, the doctor will bill Medicare directly and you will have no out-of-pocket costs. Other doctors and health professionals may charge you for services. If so, talk to your health professional or, for more information about claiming a Medicare benefit, go to www.humanservices.gov.au/medicare You must bring your Medicare card (and Health Care Card if you have one) when you visit your health professional.
The Australian Government helps with the cost of some medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). If you need a lot of medicine, the PBS Safety Net may help with the cost of prescription medicines. If you reach the PBS Safety Net amount and a pharmacist has given you a PBS Safety Net Card, your PBS medicines will be cheaper or free for the rest of that year. If you choose a more expensive brand of medicine, or your doctor prescribes one, you may still need to pay more. You can find more information about the PBS at www.pbs.gov.au/pbs/home
Medicare does not pay for ambulance costs, most dental and allied health services, spectacles, or hospital accommodation for private patients.
To find out if you are eligible to enrol with Medicare, go to a Medicare Service Centre with your passport or Immicard as well as an eligibility document, such as a visa grant letter from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or evidence from Visa Entitlement Verification Online. If you are eligible, you will be given a Medicare number, which you can use to access health care services immediately. Your Medicare card, with your Medicare number, your name and the names of other family members if they are enrolled on the same card, will be posted to you.
For more information on Medicare go to www.humanservices.gov.au/medicare or visit your local Department of Human Services service centre, which you can find at http://findus.humanservices.gov.au/
See also Chapter 1, What to do soon after arrival.