Australia has made up contracts with many countries which agree to the fact that their inhabitants are covered with medical expenses when they travel anywhere abroad to one of the member countries. These accords are mutual and all the countries get equal advantages. Anyone who travels from, like New Zealand, Britain, Ireland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta or Norway, is covered for all the medical costs when he/she is in Australia.
The reciprocal health care contract actually covers up the medical expenditure for the individuals of these member countries, when they visit Australia. It means that any ill-health, damage or injury that you have faced while being in Australia will be covered by this agreement. You have been given the right to get free treatment and medical benefits in public hospitals and health care centers.
How to enroll
One can sign up for this program in an easy manner. All you need to do is to visit a Medicare office, located anywhere in Australia along with your passport and a valid visa. Inhabitants of some countries will also have to give proof of enrollment in their own country’s national health scheme. The Sydney Medicare office is situated at 135 King Street and its open Monday to Friday, from 8:30am to 5:00pm. After you are allowed into the program, your Australian reciprocal health care card is mailed to you. By any chance, if you have already get any sort of medical treatment before registering into the program, you will be paid your money back once you join the program.
If you have dual citizenship to one country that is already a part of this program and one country that isn’t part of the program, then what you need to do is to take the passport of the member country, when you visit Australia, in order to be covered for medical costs. For example, if you hold a Canadian and a British passport, but because you visited Australia on your Canadian passport, you will not be able to receive any sort of medical care as a British citizen.
One is asked to present his/her reciprocal health care card, when he/she is receiving medical treatment either in a hospital, doctor’s surgery, or a health care center. Once you under Medicare, you are not required to pay for any of the treatments which are under Medicare. Medicare does not cover certain things, like medicines which are not subsidized, dental work, treatment arranged before you enter Australia, or accommodation and treatment in a private hospital or as a private patient in a public hospital.
Difference between this agreement and travel insurance
One should be clear regarding this health care coverage that it does not substitute travel insurance and it is strongly recommended that one should take up travel insurance policy. Medicare does not cover for the major things which are covered by travel insurance policy, like emergency evacuations back to your home country, the loss of property, liability.
Apart from all the medical coverings, the reciprocal health care program also takes some of the hassle out of dealing with doctors and hospitals in Australia. If you are part of this agreement, you will be treated as a normal citizen and you won’t be facing any problems and paperwork which you go through overseas as a foreigner. One should go for this program if can because it offers major benefits.