At present I am in the process of applying for a Medicare card and so thought it may be useful to let you all know what this is, how to get one and what it entitles you to.
First of all the Medicare card is something that allows Australians to receive free or low cost Medical, Optical and Hospital treatment. Unlike the UK where healthcare is free on the NHS (National Healthcare Service) you can be billed for visiting the doctor or hospital in Australia should you fall ill. This is essentially their way/version of getting reduced cost health care and still allowing the option to seek private treatment (pay for treatment) should you wish. These cards can be used at doctor’s surgeries where ‘Bulk Billing’ is available.
Bulk Billing is really nothing more than a payment option setup so doctors can take payment using your Medicare card and the government then pay 85% of this fee. Without signing up to Medicare you will have to pay for all your treatments, unless of course it is something you can claim back through your travel insurance…..if you have any?!?!
To be honest from an outsiders point of view it can seem quite complicated and I cannot be 100% sure I have fully grasped it, but what I do know is that this card is only available to certain non Australian residents (travellers). These are people from countries that have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia, which means that residents from these certain countries are entitled to healthcare whilst visiting Australia and Australians who visit their country receive the same benefits.
The countries which this applies to are as follows:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Republic of Ireland
In terms of getting a Medicare card it is actually quite straight forward. The first step is to fill out an application form which can be obtained from either visiting you closest Medicare office while in Australia or getting it from the Medicare associated website.
The details of all the documents you need are listed on the application form. If your Visa is electronically attached to your passport, i.e. you do not have a hard copy, you will need to visit the following website to obtain your visa details and print off a hard copy. Once this is all in place you will need to go back you your local Medicare office with your completed forms and passport and let them process your application.
It is worth noting that if you fall ill whilst in Australia and you have not yet sorted a Medicare card you can still visit a Bulk Billing doctor and once you finally get you Medicare card sorted you can submit your bill/receipt and claim your money back, so no need to panic if you’re not the quickest at getting stuff like this sorted…..we have been here 4 months and are only getting around to it now.
Hope this helps…..even just a little bit!
Love Scotty x