Australia’s subsidized healthcare system is one of the top reasons why people decide to migrate to the country. In Oz, it’s possible to get excellent clinical care for next to nothing, thanks to a complex system that uses both government funding and private insurance. Only permanent residents and citizens can benefit from Medicare. If you’re going to Australia with a temporary visa, whether it’s for work or school, you’ll be required to have some form of health insurance.
Do You Need To Get Private Insurance In Australia?
Most of Australia’s healthcare costs are covered by the government through Medicare, its tax-funded healthcare system. But even permanent residents get their own insurance — over half of Australians have private health insurance. Why? Medicare doesn’t cover all medical costs, such as ambulances, treatments in private hospitals, physiotherapy, glasses and hearing aids, and so forth. While Medicare pays for public hospital treatment and other medical services, it doesn’t cover everything, and there are long queues and waiting lists for non-emergency procedures.
The kind of insurance you’ll need will depend on your living situation. Health coverage for a single person, for example, will differ greatly to health insurance for couples. Usually, the cost of a couple's policy is double that of a single policy, so though it doesn’t exactly save money, it gives you the convenience of having just one policy and insurance provider. However, if you have different medical needs to your partner, you may want to get separate policies.
If you don’t have kids yet but are planning to grow your family in the near future, you’ll need to get your insurance much earlier so you can get coverage for birth-related services. Health funds have a 12-month waiting period on birth services. And while public hospitals provide excellent service, private coverage will let you choose your own obstetrician, as well as have more freedom regarding your birth plan.
What Is The Medical Levy?
Medicare is funded by taxpayers, and the Medical Levy is 2% of taxable income in addition to your other taxes. If you’re not eligible for Medicare, the good news is you don’t have to pay for it. To get an exemption from the levy, all you have to do is apply for a Medicare Entitlement Statement and claim it when you file your income tax return.
In addition to the Medical Levy, those who earn above a certain threshold are required to play the Medical Levy Surcharge (MLS) if they don’t have their own insurance policies. Depending on your income, the MLS rate could range from 1% to 1.5%. The MLS is designed to encourage high-income earners to take out their own health coverage and put less strain on the public healthcare system.
If you’re eligible for Medicare, you’ll need to register with a passport, permanent visa, and other travel documents to get your Medicare card. This process takes about a month, but it should be done a week after you arrive in Australia. Even though you’re eligible for Medicare, it’s still recommended that expats get their own private health insurance, to make sure that whatever health issue that crops up is properly covered.