Medicare Information for Migrants
Medicare is the system provided by the Australian Government which provides free or lower cost medical services. It provides access to benefits for a range of health services, lower cost prescriptions and free care as a public patient in a public hospital.
It pays for all or some of the costs of necessary health care all over Australia. It does not pay for all medical services. It is therefore important that visitors to Australia understand Medicare and whether they are eligible to apply for Medicare.
If you live in Australia and are an Australian permanent resident, i.e. on a permanent visa, you can apply to enroll in Medicare. If you leave Australia and live overseas you will remain enrolled in Medicare for 12 months from the day you departed Australia. If you live overseas for more than 12 months you will no longer be enrolled in Medicare.
Permanent Resident Applicants
You may enroll in Medicare if you live in Australia and have applied for a permanent resident visa and if you:
are currently on a visa with work rights; or
can prove your parent, spouse or child is an Australian citizen or permanent resident; or
can prove your parent, spouse or child is a New Zealand citizen living in Australia.
This can include situations in which you have applied for a partner/spouse visa.
If your application for a permanent visa fails and you have not lodged an appeal, then you are not eligible for Medicare but may have some cover under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement. Click here for further information.
Reciprocal Health Care Agreements
This is an agreement Australia has with people from certain countries that covers the cost of medically necessary care when visitors from these countries visit Australia.
It covers people from 11 countries – Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Criteria and coverage vary between each country. Therefore, it is important to check the eligibility criteria for the country you are from. Click here for further information.
Generally, international students are not covered under Medicare and will instead need to take out Overseas Student Health Cover. Only people on student visas from certain countries can apply for Medicare. With the exception of students from Belgium covered by a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, other students must maintain Overseas Student Health Cover as a condition of their student visa. Any cover provided under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement will be in addition to their Overseas Student Health Cover. Click here for further information.
We recommend you contact Medicare if in doubt.