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Am I eligible for free healthcare as an immigrant to Australia?

6 September 2017 - 10:36am

If you're moving to Australia you may be responsible for covering all of your healthcare costs, unless your government has signed a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement offering access to Medicare, Australia's public health system.

Are you covered, and what do you need to do if you're not?


Regardless of where you're coming from you may need health insurance for migrants to Australia. Regardless of where you're coming from you may need health insurance for migrants to Australia.

Australian migrant healthcare: Who's covered?

There are a handful of nations who have reciprocal agreements with the Australian government. If you're a citizen of one of these countries, you may receive care for illness or injury that can't wait till you get home, and the care that Medicare covers, provided you meet the terms of the agreement:

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

As brilliant as this may sound, there are several conditions. For one, you won't be covered if you're a student from Finland, Malta, Norway or Republic of Ireland. You also won't be covered if you're here on a retirement visa. What's more, if you're from New Zealand or Ireland you won't be covered for care out of hospital, like GP and specialist visits. 

If your country wasn't included in the above list, or you don't meet the conditions, you'll need to get appropriate health insurance.

It's likely that without health insurance you won't even be allowed into the country.

Migrant health insurance Australia: Things to consider

When asking yourself, "Do I need health insurance as a migrant to Australia," the first thing you should consider is the conditions of your visa. It's likely that without health insurance you won't even be allowed into the country.

On the other hand, even if you're covered under a reciprocal agreement, it won't cover ambulance services, getting you home if you become seriously ill, optical, dental, or other treatments that are not deemed clinically necessary.

Given the intricacies of being covered in Australia, it's important that everyone check what kind of insurance they qualify for before they visit. 

What level of cover do I need?

Depending on your visa type you'll need at least the minimum level of cover set down by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to satisfy the terms of your visa. If you're here for longer than a few months you'll also need to consider other costs like out-of-hospital medical expenses, dental, ambulance fees and medical repatriation to your home country.

Regardless of your nationality you'll have to pay for services not covered by Medicare, and in Australia they're not cheap. For example, Choice recently found that a simple dental check up could run as high as $305. 


Do you need migrant health insurance when moving to Australia?Do you need migrant health insurance when moving to Australia?

With the right private health insurance plan, suited to you and your needs, you'll gain peace of mind knowing that an accident or a sore tooth won't bankrupt you. More importantly with the appropriate cover you'll know that regardless of what happens you'll be well taken care of. Get in touch with HICA today to make sure you have the health insurance you need.