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What is Medicare?

OSHCstudents – 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)

*Medicare may not cover the whole cost.

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

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.

  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Slovenia
  • United Kingdom
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Sweden

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!

OSHCstudents (source: Bupa)

News related

Baek Ah Yeon

I trust Allianz Care since it is one of the largest insurance companies in Australia, with the medical centres where I only have to pay for what is left from insurance support. (no need to claim later). Besides, those centres are located at the centre of the city, close to schools. Very convenient, right? Credits to Allianz Care for providing reliable medical centres for health check and treatments.

Baek Ah Yeon | University of Queensland

Ariella Pei

I’ve been living with homestay family for 2 years. I’m now 19, I can move out but I don’t want to leave my host, who has become my family. It feels like I’ve met my second family. Thanks OSHCstudents for sending me to this homestay!

Ariella Pei | University of Canberra

Chatchawat Paton

I realised how important insurance was when I started living in Australia. There I switched to using Allianz Care instead of the previous service. Allianz Care is extraordinarily good in its consulting service and customer care. I’ve learned a lot about Australian health care, also I was consulted with mental issues and how to live a healthy lifestyle. I am very happy now.

Chatchawat Paton | Torrent University

Xiaoyu Cheng

Thanks to Allianz Care, every time I claimed my medical receipts it processed much more quickly and easily than I expected. I was initially a bit concerned since Allianz Care is more expensive than other insurance companies, but now I can ensure that it is totally worth the money.

Xiaoyu Cheng | Monash University

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