Healthcare in Australia



Australia's healthcare system is considered to be highly developed, and the country has one of the highest life expectancies in the world today.

Australia holds one of the highest life expectancies worldwide, even among developed countries. It is estimated that the government funds about 70% of Australia's health expenditure. The commonwealth shoulders 67% of this cost covering three national subsidy schemes: Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate. The remaining 33% is covered by the States and Territories. The numbers paint a positive picture and reinforce that healthcare is a fundamental issue in Australia that the government has taken strides to improve.

Some of the government's health strategies include the provision of clinical services and programs, including improvement of the social, physical, and economic environment of groups or individuals at special risk, reduction of health risk exposures, capacity building to enable individuals to exercise control in their environment and make appropriate health choices, and the provision of culturally relevant services, among others. Consequently, since special medical treatments are cheaper in Australia than in other developed countries, many patients opt to go to Australia for treatment and other medical services. Patients must obtain the appropriate visa before entering Australia.


This is a state-run healthcare scheme funded through income tax and a Medicare levy derived from the incomes of Australian residents. The amount of contributions depends on citizens' ability to pay. Medicare is available to all citizens and permanent residents of Australia. The Australian government provides help with medical expenses through the Medicare scheme and all expats living in Australia need to join within 7 to 10 days from the date of arrival. The Medicare scheme offers free public hospital care and subsidized medicines. To register, you need to go to a Medicare centre with your passport, travel documents and a permanent visa. After three weeks, a Medicare card will be sent to you.

To claim Medicare benefits you must first pay the medical bill in full and then receive reimbursement from Medicare at a later date. Alternatively, you can request the medical fee in advance from Medicare, whereby Medicare will issue a check payable to the doctor in question. Lastly, doctors may also deduct the subsidy that will be provided by Medicare from the fees and submit the benefit claims directly to Medicare. You can claim through the post or in person at Medicare offices or designated agencies.

Private Health Insurance                         

In addition to Medicare, many Australians choose to buy private health insurance. The levels of cover range from ancillary to full hospital cover. Private health insurance represents about 11% of healthcare funding in Australia, and covers some services not covered by Medicare such as optical, physiotherapy, podiatry, and dental services. The government's support to private patients includes the regulation of insurance companies to ensure that the community rating is observed and ensuring that insurance companies are charging equal premiums regardless of medical status or claims history.

Another government program that encourages individuals to avail of a private health insurance is the Lifetime Health Cover. This plan allows people aged 31 and below who chose to retain private insurance to pay lower premiums. Insurance premiums for people over 31 years old are charged 2% higher more for each year the individual has delayed joining a private health insurance.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Through Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the government provides high subsidies on a number of prescription medicines available to all Australian residents and international guests from countries where Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements. For further information, click here.


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