Medicare

Medicare is the healthcare scheme that Australians use. It gives all Australians and some visitors from overseas a wide range of health and hospital services at no cost or low cost.

Read more about Medicare on the Services Australia website or phone Medicare on 132 011.

Reciprocal health care agreements

The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with the following countries:

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

These agreements let you use some health services for essential medical treatment while visiting Australia, including:

  • free treatment as a public inpatient or outpatient in a public hospital
  • any medicine funded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Medicare benefits for out of hospital treatment provided by a doctor.

The RHCA will help cover some treatment that you need to have. This means any ill health or injury which happens while you're in Australia that you need to have treated before you go home.

Residents of the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand can use our services as a public patient in a public hospital. They can use this service for any PBS funded prescription medicines that they need.

Read more about reciprocal health care agreements on the Services Australia website.

Overseas students

You're covered by Medicare if you're in Australia on a student visa from:

  • the United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • the Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Slovenia
  • Italy
  • New Zealand.

You're not covered by Medicare if you're a student from:

  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • the Republic of Ireland.

You'll need to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) as a condition of your student visa if you are from:

  • Belgium
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Sweden.

Read more about Overseas Student Health Cover on the Commonwealth Ombudsman Private Health Insurance website.

International visitors who can't use Medicare

If you're coming from overseas to Australia to get medical treatment, you must get a medical treatment visa. You'll need to use that visa when you travel to Australia to start your treatment.

Read more about medical treatment visas on the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you can't use Medicare and you need unplanned medical treatment, you'll need to pay for it. This includes any care you get in a public hospital. Please make sure you get travel insurance before your holiday.

Going to a private medical clinic can be cheaper than going to a public hospital if you don't have Medicare. Please contact private medical services and public hospitals if you need treatment.

Last updated: May 2022