Health Insurance In Australia – An Overview

What is health insurance in Australia?

Understanding the Australian medical system is essential if you’re relocating from another country. This section will give an overview of the Australian medical system.

In Australia, health care is provided through private hospitals, public hospitals, community health centers, private practices, and government-funded clinics. Private hospitals charge higher fees than public hospitals. However, they provide better facilities and services. Public hospitals offer lower-quality service and treatment but are generally cheaper. Community Health Centres are run by local governments and provide essential medical services such as vaccinations, minor surgery, and emergency treatment. They also offer access to GPs who work within the center. Government-funded clinics are operated by state and territory governments and provide similar services to private practitioners.

Having children in Australia has many benefits, including financial support from the government, tax breaks, and other services provided by the Australian Government Department for Human Services. These include maternity pay, family tax benefit, and others.

How Healthcare Works in Australia

The Australian healthcare system consists of both public and private healthcare providers. Patients can choose between these options depending on where they live. Primary healthcare is provided by doctors, nurses, pharmacologists, and dentists. In addition, specialists offer medical treatment in specific fields, including cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, and orthopedics. Find out how to find a GP, specialist, or dental service provider in Australia here.

We discuss Australia’s public healthcare system here. If you want to learn more about private healthcare in Australia, check out the next chapter.

Australia Healthcare Facts

  • Australia has a universal public and private health care system with private health insurance plans available.
  • All residents have access to the public health care program, but half of the population has personal health coverage.
  • Public health care schemes offer emergency rooms and doctors for free.
  • There are more than 5,000 pharmacies in the United States.
  • There are approximately 1,300 hospitals in Mexico City. Seven hundred of them are public, and 600 are private.
  • There are more than 25,000 doctors in the United States alone.
  • Specific healthcare programs are available for certain groups, including Indigenous Australians and veteran patients.
  • Two major government-funded healthcare schemes are Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

What exactly happens when healthcare works in Australia?

The public healthcare system has three main components: general hospitals, private clinics, and government-operated facilities. They’re managed at different levels of government: federal, state, and territorial.

Eligible expatriates who wish to enroll in the Australian government’s health care program must do so within a month of arriving in Australia. They will then be able to obtain their Medicare card.

  • a passport;
  • travel documents;
  • Permanent visa.

You can enroll for coverage online or in person at an insurance company.

Do Australians have free public healthcare?

Yes. Australians who live in Australia, including those seeking permanent residency, can access free or low-cost healthcare through Medicare—the government’s universal healthcare program. Medicare was established in 1984 and is available throughout the entire country.

Due to Australia’s reciprocal health care agreement, Medicare is also available for expatriates from 11 countries. These countries include:

If you’re living overseas, you should have or be ready on taking out private health insurance. You may need to cover yourself if you get injured or sick while away.


What does public healthcare cover?

Medicare in Australia covers hospital care, doctor visits, prescription drugs, dental services

  • cost of treatment for public patients at public health facilities, including doctor’s fees, hospital charges, and more.
  • If you’re admitted to a general ward, you’ll pay 75 percent of the cost of treatment.
  • Most of the costs are associated with seeing a doctor or specialist.
  • Your doctor performed some tests and exams.
  • Lower prices on some prescription medications.

Australia Healthcare Costs

Medicare is funded through taxation. Taxpayers pay an amount equal to 2 percent of their annual income into the Medicare scheme. In 2016–17, Australians contributed $9.5 billion toward the cost of health care. That’s around 0.8 percent of our total national income.

  • Australian government (41%);
  • state and territory governments (27%);
  • people (for products and services that aren’t fully covered) (17%)
  • private health insurers (9%);
  • non-government organizations (6%).
  • Australia spends a lot of money on healthcare. Between 2016 and 2017, they spent $3.8 billion on health care.

Government agencies are responsible for paying most of the costs associated with community health care.

All three levels of government (federal, state, and local) contribute funds for public hospitals.

Australia Healthcare System Pros and Cons


  • A tax-supported, affordable healthcare system that provides free healthcare to the public
  • Private insurers cover dental care and private hospitals for their members.
  • It Covers medical prescriptions.
  • Australian death rates are among the lowest in the English language-using world. They’re softer than the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Life expectancies are among the highest in the world, per the OECD.


  • Long waits for hospital medical services and emergency room visits.
  • Lack of life insurance.
  • The public health insurance system does not cover it.


A brief overview of private health insurance

Private healthcare in Australia works by having everyone pay the same premium regardless of age, gender, or pre-existing conditions. In addition, everyone has a right to renewal, and insurers cannot refuse to sell you a plan you want to purchase.

Are you eligible for health insurance in Australia?

Private medical insurance in Canada is not a requirement. Although the Canadian government strongly recommends that Canadians buy private health insurance, only 50% of the population purchases private health insurance. This means that the remaining half of the population relies on the public healthcare system. For example, ambulance services are covered under the public healthcare system.

You’ll be charged a lifetime healthcare surcharge if you don’t buy private hospital cover before July 1 after your 31st birthday.

Health Insurance Coverage

There are three main types of private healthcare coverage in Australia: hospital care, extras (such as physiotherapy), and ambulance services.


With hospital insurance, you select your doctor and hospital. You can opt to be seen privately or publicly. Private patients pay out of pocket for their care, whereas public patients receive government subsidies. If you go to a private hospital, you’ll likely face longer waits than if you go to a public one. And if you’re uninsured, you’ll have to pay the total cost yourself.

  • hospital stay;
  • intensive care;
  • operating theater fees;
  • drugs, dressing, and consumables;
  • surgically implanted prostheses;
  • diagnostic tests;
  • pharmaceuticals, and
  • Any additional doctor’s fees.


Extras involve general treatments, and maybe things like:

dental exams and treatment;

physiotherapy, occupational therapies, vision therapies, speech therapies, chiropractic care, podiatry, or psychological care;

  • acupuncture;
  • eye health;
  • hearing aids, and
  • Home nursing.

Typically, health care coverage only covers extra expenses up to a specific limit each year. So be sure to ask about this limit before choosing a plan.


Medicare doesn’t cover ambulances. So this is one of several main reasons people buy private insurance. Most insurance companies offer combo plans that include these services.

Make sure to check what exactly is covered by the insurance company before booking your trip. For example, some companies offer full coverage for all expenses, while others may be limited to specific journeys.


What is health insurance?

Healthcare costs vary widely depending on where you live and how much you earn. In addition to medical expenses, you may also pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs, dental work, vision care, and other services. You can find information about your state’s healthcare system online or through local government offices.

Basic 200 AUD 140 USD Medium 300 AUD 205 USD Top 300 AUD 210 USD

The cost of health insurance depends on where they live. In April 2019, the New South Wales (NSW) state gov­ernment announced a new tiering system: primary, bronze, silve­rant, and golden. The average monthly premium for a single policy across ten funds in Sydney was as fol­lows:

Basic AUD 55 USD 60 AUD 90 USD 120 AUD 170

There are types of health insurance plans.

Here is a list of Australian investment options and their monthly fees available.

The numbers above represent the maximum coverage available for each plan.

Cost varies depending on which Australian state/territory you live in.

There are some cheap health insurance policies in Australia, but they’re challenging to get. Some of them cost hundreds of dollars a year. Others are even cheaper than that but require living in certain parts of the country. And others are so expensive that they might be out of reach for people who don’t earn enough to qualify for government subsidies.

How to Get Health Insurance in Australia

To get insured, you should compare companies’ policies and choose the one that suits you best. Then, when you’ve signed up, be aware that there might be a delay before you can start receiving benefits or using specific treatments. You may need to pay a fee if you’re pregnant or have a pre-existing condition.

Finding a doctor or dentist

You can use this guide to learn everything you need about finding a specialist in Australia. It includes listings for doctors, dentists, and even services across every state.

Finding a family doctor is relatively easy if you know where to find and look.

In Australia, family physicians are known as General Practitioners (GP) or Family Physicians (FP), depending on where they practice. They are often called “Doc.” or “Dr.” in casual conversation. Most GPs work full-time, although some do part-time. Some GPs also run clinics or practices.

You need to book an appointment with a doctor if you want to visit one. Usually, appointments are booked several days in advance. However, if it is essential, you might be able to get an appointment right away.

How to Find Specialists

Most people who see a specialist need to be seen by one first. However, if they don’t come from their general practitioner (GP), they may also get referrals from friends, family, co-workers, or their research.

Finding a dentist

You don’t need to sign up for an account with any particular dental practice. The Australian Dental Association directory is an excellent place to start looking for a dental procedure. It allows you to look by state and the types of services offered.

On average, wait times for an appointment at a doctor in Australia are between 2 weeks and three months.

Even if you’re lucky enough to get an early slot for an urgent medical issue, you might only see the doctor after their office hours. And Medicare patients often have to stand in line for so long to see a specialist.

For example, in the United States, 50% of people wait more than three weeks for their first appointment after calling an emergency room, 10% wait more than four months, and 5% wait more than six months. If we look at Australia, we see that 10% of people wait longer than two years before they receive treatment. And in Tasmania, 10% of people remain for almost a year.

For specialist dentists’ appointments such as root canal treatments, filling, and extractive surgeries, 9 percent of Australians in NSW and roughly 25 percent of Australians in SA waited more than a year before receiving treatment. In other states, these figures were:

  • Western Australia—16%
  • Queensland—16%
  • Tasmania—17%
  • Victoria—17%

About one-quarter of people who experience an episode of acute mental illness will spend more than eight hours waiting for treatment at the ER.

Giving Birth in Australia

If you’re not a resident of any of the countries listed above but give birth in Australia, you may be eligible for free or subsidized essential treatment through Medicare.

If you want to have a child in Australia as a foreigner but don’t have enough funds to cover the expenses, it is best to get private health coverage. Otherwise, you will need to pay for everything yourself.

Unlike in other parts of the world, birth tourism is not as common in Australia because of the high costs associated with giving birth there.

Cost of Having a Baby in Australia

If you give birth in Australia without having private healthcare coverage, you will be responsible for paying these average costs out-of-pocket.

Reasons for Visits: Prenatal visits (pregnancy) – $75-$150; prenatal ultrasounds – $60-$280; C-sections – $14,000-$19,700

If you go to a public health facility, your costs will usually be less than if you opt for private medical services. For example, women who deliver naturally may need to spend up to four days in the maternity ward. Those who undergo a cesarean section delivery should expect to stay in custody for three to four days.


Advantages of private health insurance

Private hospital insurance allows you to receive treatment in a private or public hospital, request a private room, and select your doctor, even though you will receive high-quality medical care as a public patient in the public system.

Some private health insurers include “lifestyle” benefits, such as gym membership, complementary medicine, and massage.

The Australian government also offers tax benefits to people who purchase private health insurance, which lessens the burden on the public hospital system.

Some common advantages of private health insurance are the following, though specific health insurance policies vary.

  • The medical facility of your choice.
  • The medical professional of your choice.
  • Fewer (in some cases) longer waiting periods for elective surgery.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Dental protection, paramedic protection

The expenses that your health insurance covers depend on the kind of healthcare plan you have. Some people select comprehensive coverage, while others only desire extra coverage to supplement their Medicare coverage, and still, others prefer a mix of the two.

Choosing a Health Insurance Company

Knowing where to start when choosing a health insurance provider can take time and effort. Websites for the Victorian Government, health insurance providers, and brokers all have helpful information. However, be cautious of advice that overtly promotes a business’s goods, and ensure the information is always up to date.

Some crucial considerations for your research include the following:

  • In general, lower premiums translate into a smaller refund.
  • For services like pregnancy or dental care, there are frequent waiting periods before you can submit a claim.
  • The amount your insurance provider will pay you versus the cost of your medical care needs to be more in sync.
  • Examine the Medicare levy, the Medicare levy surcharge, and your obligation to pay them.

There may be limitations on the doctors or hospitals you can choose, so inquire about the preferred list of healthcare providers (those they cover) that the health insurance provider uses.

Primary healthcare and general practice

Most people seek primary healthcare first when they are ill. After that, it is in various locations, such as general practices, community health centers, and homes.

Doctors offer primary care, along with community nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other allied health specialists.

allied healthcare

A trained health professional who is not a doctor, dentist, or nurse is known as an allied health practitioner.

They offer services like diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation to assist you in managing your physical or mental health. Also, find out more about allied health professionals’ general practitioner services available after hours.

Only open during regular business hours, many general practices. There are several after-hours options if you need help locating an available general rule.

The free, government-funded after-hours GP helpline may be of assistance. A registered nurse is available to speak with you and will enquire about your health. They will give you information and guidance. If necessary, a doctor will call you within an hour.

In major cities and centers, after-hours doctor call-out services are offered. These are personal services, and a doctor can visit you at home. Medicare might, in some circumstances, pay for this service.

Patients needing immediate medical or surgical attention can be treated in emergency departments (EDs). In addition, emergency rooms in public hospitals across Australia are often found and run by them.

Emergency rooms (EDs) are made to handle acute (severe, sudden illnesses) illnesses and life-threatening medical emergencies. However, the best place to go for non-acute, less extreme conditions is a general practice.

Call your doctor or health director at 1800 022 222 (also known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) if you’re unsure whether your medical condition requires immediate attention.


Responsibilities of the government

The health system is jointly managed by Australia’s local, state, and federal governments.

Responsibility of the Australian government

  • The MBS, or Medicare Benefits Schedule.
  • PBS, or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule.
  • Supporting and governing private health insurance.
  • Promoting and keeping an eye on the effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of primary healthcare services.
  • Providing financial support for senior care services, such as residential and home care, and regulating the aged care industry.
  • The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is responsible for gathering and disseminating data on health and welfare.
  • The Medical Research Future Fund and the National Health and Medical Research Council provide health and medical research funding.
  • Funding the Department of Veterans Affairs provision of medical care for veterans.
  • Funding primary healthcare organizations run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Maintaining the number of physicians in Australia and ensuring they are distributed fairly throughout the nation (through Commonwealth-funded university spaces).
  • Purchasing vaccines for the national immunization program.
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates medications and medical equipment.
  • Providing hearing aid subsidies.
  • Access to organ and tissue transplants is coordinated.
  • Ensuring a reliable supply of cost-effective blood products.
  • National coordination of responses to pandemics and other health emergencies.
  • Ensuring a secure food supply or stocks in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Through nuclear safety research, policy, and regulation, the public, and the environment are protected from radiation.