For non-Australian residents
Depending on the type of visa you have and your country of origin, you may be required to take private health insurance as part of your visa conditions:
- If you are on work visa (e.g. 457), you may be required to take out Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) unless you are from one of the countries with reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia.
- If you are on working holiday visa, private health cover is not a mandatory requirement of the visa but is recommended.
- If you are on investment/retirement visa, you must hold private medical coverage for the duration of your stay.
For more information on health insurance requirements by visa type, check www.border.gov.au.
Regardless of mandatory requirements of your visa, it is recommended that you have some form of health cover as medical treatment in Australia can be very expensive.
If you are from one of the countries with reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia, you may be entitled to Medicare which will provide for your health cover:
- If you are from the UK, Sweden, Finland or Norway, you are covered by Medicare for the duration of your stay in Australia.
- If you are from Belgium, the Netherlands or Slovenia, you must have your European Health Insurance card to be eligible to enroll in Medicare and are covered up until your card expiry date or for the length of your stay.
- If you are from Malta or Italy, you must be residents and citizens and will be covered for 6 months from the date of your arrival in Australia.
It is a good idea to bring your and your family’s medical records with you when you move to Australia. If you have children, bring their immunisation records with you as you will need them for schools and childcare centres.
For Australian residents
As part of the Australian Government initiative to encourage strong private sector involvement in the health system, Australian residents and citizens are required to have appropriate level of private health cover if they meet the set income threshold for the year or they will be subject to additional tax called the Medicare Levy Surcharge. To further support this initiative, the government also contributes towards the cost of your private health insurance premiums, known as Private Health Insurance rebate, if your income meets the set threshold.
Consult the Australian Taxation Office website for detailed information on Medicare Levy Surcharge and Private Health Insurance rebate.
There are two types of health covers:
- Hospital Cover covers the cost of in-hospital treatment by your doctor and other associated costs such as hospital accommodation and theatre fees
- Extras Cover provides benefits for ancillary services such as dental, optical, physiotherapy etc.
In addition to possible tax benefits, having private health insurance usually entitles you to your choice of doctor in public or private hospitals, with expenses covered for hospital accommodation and additional costs such as theatre fees and medicines. Bear in mind however that depending on your policy and level of cover, your expenses may not be fully covered and there are usually associated co-payment or out of pocket expenses on your part if you choose to be seen in a private facility.
There are a number of private health insurance providers in Australia and signing up is usually a straightforward process. Aggregator websites like iSelect, PrivateHealth and CompareTheMarket can be handy with their tools that enable you to compare what’s in the market based on your needs and preferences.
Some of the major private health insurance providers are:
Most private health insurance policies have waiting periods before you can make certain claims and these vary depending on the provider, level of cover you choose, and whether or not you have any pre-existing conditions. Check with the insurance companies beforehand to ensure you are familiar with any waiting periods that may apply.
As private health can be a competitive industry in Australia, it may be worth negotiating the waiting periods with your potential provider. If you do not have pre-existing conditions they may agree to waive or shorten the waiting period.
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Sterling Healthcare Resourcing
The content of this website is written and owned by Sterling Healthcare Resourcing Pty Ltd, an Australian-owned healthcare recruitment agency which specialises in permanent and locum job placements of Australian and international doctors. This website contains information that serves as a general guide to living and working in Australia.