Medicare

Medicare is the scheme that gives Australian residents access to healthcare. It gives all Australians and some people from overseas a wide range of health and hospital services at no cost or low cost.

Read more about Medicare on the Human Services website or phone Medicare on 132 011.

Reciprocal health care agreements

The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with the following countries:

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

These agreements give you access to some health services for medical treatment while visiting Australia, including:

  • free treatment as a public inpatient or outpatient in a public hospital
  • subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Medicare benefits for out of hospital treatment provided by a doctor.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements cover treatment that is medically essential. This means any ill health or injury which happens while you're in Australia that you need to have treated before you go home.

Residents of the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand can access health care as a public patient in a public hospital. This includes prescription medicines that are medically necessary and are subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Read more about reciprocal health care agreements on the Services Australia website.

Overseas students

You're covered by Medicare if you're in Australia on a student visa from:

  • the United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • the Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Slovenia
  • Italy
  • New Zealand.

You're not covered on Medicare if you're a student from:

  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • the Republic of Ireland.

You'll need to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) as a condition of your student visa if you're from:

  • Belgium
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Sweden.

Read more about Overseas Student Health Cover on the Commonwealth Ombudsman Private Health Insurance website.

International visitors who can't use Medicare

If you're coming from overseas to Australia to get medical treatment, you must get a medical treatment visa. You'll need to use that visa when you travel to Australia to start your treatment.

Read more about medical treatment visas on the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you're not eligible for Medicare and you need unplanned medical treatment, you'll have to pay for it. This includes any care you get in a public hospital. Please make sure you get travel insurance before your holiday.

Going to a private medical clinic can be cheaper than going to a public hospital if you don't have Medicare. Please contact private medical services and public hospitals if you need treatment.

If you'd like to know more about what your care will cost if you can't use Medicare, you can email our team at DDHSD_Revenue@health.qld.gov.au.

Last updated: March 2022