What You Need to Know About Relocate to Australia

Australia’s healthcare system is a combination of both private and public schemes. Understanding how it works is essential for your smooth transition to Australian life. More than 50% of the population purchase private insurance as the public scheme (Medicare) does not cover everything. Living in the capital or other major cities gives you better access to doctors, should the need arise. Rural areas will obviously have more challenges. If you are a public patient, you will have to be referred by your general practitioner (GP) to see a specialist. Your child will automatically gain citizenship should you ever find yourself giving birth in Australia with at least a permanent residency status. Otherwise, your child will share the same visa status as you (e.g., temporary residence if you are on a Temporary Work visa).


Healthcare in Australia

Australia’s healthcare system is known to be among the best in the world. It is a combination of both public and private schemes. Understanding how it works is crucial for your smooth transition to life Down Under. More than 50% of the population purchase private insurance as the public scheme (Medicare) does not offer sufficient coverage. Australia also has a reciprocal Health Care Agreement with eleven countries which entitles the eligible expat from one of these countries access to Medicare.

Australia has over 1,300 hospitals, both public and private, that offer non-residents a wide range of healthcare options. There are over 25,000 doctors in Australia and 24,000 specialists. Falling ill in one of its major cities means instant access to the best doctors and facilities the country has to offer. In contrast, it is routine to travel some distance to see a doctor or specialist if you’re from the rural areas.

Healthcare Facts in Australia

▸ Anyone who is a permanent resident has access to the public system.
▸ Half the population has private coverage.
▸ Australia’s healthcare scheme is a universal public healthcare system with private options.
▸ The public scheme guarantees free emergency services and doctor visits.
▸ There are over 5,000 pharmacies in the country
▸ There are 1,300 hospitals (700 public and 600 private).
▸ There are over 25,000 doctors and approximately 24,000 specialists, nationwide.
▸ Indigenous Australians and veterans have access to specific healthcare programs.
▸ There are two national health assistance schemes: Medicare Benefits Scheme and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

In order for eligible expats to avail of public healthcare, they must register within a week of their arrival to receive their Medicare card. They will need to present the following documents:
▸ A passport;
▸ Travel documents;
▸ Permanent visa.
Expats may choose to sign up in person or online and processing can take up to a month.

Does Australia Have Free Public Healthcare?

Yes. As long as you are a permanent resident in the country, you can access the public health system at no or little cost via Medicare. Medicare is also available to expats from these eleven countries because of the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement:

▸ Belgium
▸ Finland
▸ Italy
▸ Malta
▸ Netherlands
▸ New Zealand
▸ Norway
▸ Ireland
▸ Slovenia
▸ Sweden
▸ United Kingdom
Expats from countries outside the list are expected to get private health insurance coverage to ease the burden from the public system.

How Much is Health Insurance?

Depending on the plan you purchase and coverage This depends entirely on the plan you purchase, what is included in your coverage, and the level of coverage. The average cost of health insurance in Australia in 2018 was 166 AUD (110 USD) per month. The average hospital insurance was roughly 2,000 AUD (1,320 USD) per year, and extra policies cost approximately 850 AUD (560 USD) annually. The following outlines the average cost per month, which includes general treatment and hospital insurance, based on level of coverage for 2019.


200 AUD

131 USD


300 AUD

198 USD


400 AUD

263 USD

In April 2019, the Australian government also introduced a new tiering system for hospital insurance: basic, bronze, silver, and gold. The average price per month based on a single policy across ten funds in Sydney was as follows:


80 AUD

52 USD


90 AUD

60 USD


130 AUD

86 USD


170 AUD

112 USD

Types of Health Insurance Plans

The following is a list of various policies from different funds across Australia, and their cost per month.




HBF’s Ultimate with GapSaver



Medibank’s Ultra Health Cover



Westfund’s Platinum Plus



Bupa’s Ultimate Health Cover



com.au’s High 85



HBF, Medicare, and Westfund are among Australia’s most expensive providers, while the cheapest three combined come from AHM health insurance in the Northern Territory. Other affordable health insurance plans include the cheapest extras policy in the Northern Territory from HCF for 6 AUD (4 USD) a month, followed by the second cheapest from Mildura at 11 AUD (8 USD) per month, available across Australia. The most expensive policy in the country is from GU Health at 155 AUD (107 USD) a month.ir cost per month.

How to Get Health Insurance in Australia

To obtain health insurance, you should contact your chosen company once you have compared and settled on the right coverage for you and your family. Once you sign up, be aware that you will be subject to a waiting period before you can claim any of your benefits or receive particular treatment. For pre-existing conditions or pregnancy, you may need to wait up to twelve months.

How to Find a Doctor or Dentist

All the information you need to know on how to find a doctor or dentist, even specialists in Australia can be found in this section. To help get you started, you can search on the Australian Doctors Directory. This guide lists specialists, doctors, and even services across all states. It lets you search by state, and the type of dentist (denture specialist, orthodontist, cosmetic dentistry, etc.) and service you need.

How to Find a Family Doctor

In Australia, family doctors are referred to as general practitioners (GPs). You will have no problem finding a doctor in major Australian cities and capitals. If you happen to be an expat in a rural area, you might have to travel some distance to get to one. Unlike in some countries, it is not necessary to be registered with a specific doctor in Australia—you can see any doctor either as a public or private patient.

To see a GP, you must have an appointment. This is usually made a couple of days in advance. If it is urgent, you may be seen immediately, but whenever possible, it is best to make an appointment at least a day before.

How to Find Specialists

Public patients must be referred to specialist doctors by a GP. Private patients can make appointments directly with specialists, although most insurance companies still prefer you to be referred. If not from their doctor, private patients may also get recommendations for specialists from friends, family, work colleagues, or through their research.

Average Wait Time to See a Doctor in Australia

Even with an appointment, doctor’s offices are usually packed full so it may be well past your appointment time before you are finally seen. Medicare patients must also be prepared to wait a long time to see specialist doctors as there are long waiting lists.

For example, for a hip replacement, half of the population across the country waits more than a month for the procedure, and 10% of patients wait more than six months. In Australia’s smallest state, Tasmania, 10% of patients wait approximately one year for an elective procedure. This is without counting the time it takes to get on the waitlist.

For specialist dential procedures such as root canals, fillings, and extractions, 9% of the population in New South Wales and roughly 25% in South Australia wait more than a year for public services. In other states, here are the percentages of people who waited more than a year for public dental services:

▸ Western Australia—16%
▸ Queensland—16%
▸ Tasmania—17%
▸ Victoria—17%

Giving Birth in Australia

If you are from any of the countries mentioned prior, your healthcare costs will be supported by the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement through Medicare. This could mean free or subsidized treatments. Having a baby in Australia is quite expensive so it would be wise to avail of private insurance. Cost of Having a Baby in Australia If you don’t have health insurance be prepared to shell out the following amounts as part of your birth expenses.

Reason for Visit



Prenatal doctor visit and care

75-150 per visit


Prenatal ultrasound






Regular birth



Home birth and delivery with midwife



Public hospitals would definitely be cost efficient. Do expect to stay in the hospital between four to 48 hours. Mothers who give birth via C-section will need to stay between three to four days.

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