Medicare Explained

What is Medicare?

Introduced in 1984, Medicare is Australia’s publicly funded health care system and funds affordable primary health care for all Australia Citizens and Permanent Residents. As in the UK, the health care system in Australia is divided in to the public and the private.

Am I entitled to Medicare?

As an Electrician immigrating on either a 189 or 190 Visa you will automatically be entitled to enrol on Medicare. However, Skilled Regional (489), Temporary Skilled (457) or Employer Sponsored Visa holders are not entitled to receive Medicare and you will need to buy private health insurance prior to arrival.

What do I receive on Medicare?

Anyone with a Medicare card can receive:

  • Free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists, (and other health practitioners in special circumstances only)
  • Free treatment and accommodation as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital
  • 75 per cent of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital (does not include hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines)

What’s not covered?

Many treatments are not covered, including that not considered immediately necessary and you might want to take out private health insurance to cover these costs:

  • Medicines not subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • Dental work
  • Treatment arranged before your visit to Australia
  • Ambulance services
  • Most optical services
  • Accommodation and medical treatment in a private hospital
  • Accommodation and medical treatment as a private patient in a public hospital

If you’re eligible for Medicare, you may be eligible for Australian government rebates on your private health insurance. The Australian Government Rebate scheme on Private Health Insurance reduces the amount you pay for private health insurance. The rebate amount you get is based on the age of the oldest person covered by the policy and by your annual earnings.

As a policyholder, it’s worth checking that your health fund is registered health fund/insurer as not all private health funds and private health insurance policies are eligible for Australian Government rebates.

Register with Medicare

To enrol in Medicare you should go into any Medicare office 7 to 10 days after your arrival in Australia and take your passport or travel documents.

How do I get Private Health Insurance?

There are many companies that provide private health insurance in Australia, the website details a comprehensive list.


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