The Australian healthcare system

Healthcare in Australia

There are two components that make up the Australian healthcare system:

  1. The public health system administered by the Australian Government, known as Medicare and,
  2. the private health system.

How the Australian healthcare system works

When you purchase overseas visitors cover you will be covered for emergency and non-emergency health issues. Check the table below to find out what you need to do if you experience any health issues during your time in Australia.

Emergency Health Issues
Non-Emergency Health Issues

Do you have access to Medicare?

The Australian Government has agreements with certain countries,
called Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA).

These agreements enable residents of these countries to receive Medicare benefits when visiting or working in Australia. The level of Medicare cover and the period for which you receive it varies depending on which country you are from.

Select your country from the list of countries below to find out if you have access to Medicare and what you are covered for:

If your main country of residence is listed above… Great!

You’ll have access to certain Medicare benefits when you visit Australia. However, there are a number of important things that Medicare does not cover you for, such as ambulance services. That’s why the Australian Government still suggests that overseas visitors consider taking out private health cover. It will offer you convenience and a greater peace of mind.


If your main country of residence is not listed…

Should you require medical attention in Australia, whether in an emergency or a non-emergency situation, you will be charged for all hospital, ambulance and doctor fees and have significant costs to pay. You will not have access to any Medicare benefits. So consider taking out private health cover. It offers you convenience and gives you greater peace of mind. In fact, for many overseas visitors from non-RHCA countries, having health insurance is often a mandatory visa requirement.


It's important to check if your visa requires you to have suitable health cover before you apply. Without it you may be refused the visa!

What is Medicare?

Medicare is Australia's public healthcare system for all citizens and most permanent residents.

It provides free or subsidised cover for certain healthcare services, which means it pays all or part of the costs. Some international visitors may receive Medicare benefits if a treatment is considered medically necessary.

However, Medicare does not cover treatment in a private hospital. You may also not be able to choose your own doctor in hospital. This means you will experience out–of-pocket costs that you have to pay yourself.

Covered under Medicare*
Treatment in a public hospital that is medically necessary
Visiting a General Practitioner (GP)
Referral to a specialist doctor
Medical tests and examinations
Prescription medication subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
Not covered under Medicare
Ambulance services
Repatriation benefits to get you home to your country of origin if you become seriously ill
Extras services including optical and dental
Access to private doctors and specialists
Services and treatment in public hospital that not clinically necessary
Services and treatment in private hospital

*Medicare may not cover the whole cost.

This is where Bupa can help. Taking out private health cover can help by:

  • Protecting you from the unexpected,
  • offering you peace of mind and,
  • meeting your visa requirements.

Choose your cover

Compare our overseas visitor covers

See if the tax rebate
effects you

Find out about the Australian Government rebate and the Medicare Levy Surcharge and if it applies to you

Call Us

134 135 from within Australia,
+61 3 9487 6400 from outside Australia.

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8am - 8pm Monday to Friday and
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(All times in AEST)

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