Australia has entered into a reciprocal health care agreement with a number of countries which enable Australians to receive essential medical treatment when overseas.
What countries does Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement with, and what do they cover?
What is a reciprocal health care agreement?
A reciprocal health care agreement is an agreement between Australia and a foreign country that provides for Australians to receive essential medical treatment in the foreign country. The agreements are unique to each country, and usually will not cover private hospital treatment, dental treatment, or other specialty services (including the provision of subsidised medicine).
What countries does Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement with?
At the time of writing, Australia had a reciprocal health agreement with the following countries.
- New Zealand
- Republic of Ireland
- The Netherlands
- United Kingdom
How Do I receive treatment under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?
The process differs between each country, so you should consult with Dept of Human Services before travelling, and in some cases you will need to register in advance of visiting the country. To claim health care services under the reciprocal health care agreements (or to receive reimbursement) you will usually require your Australian passport and a valid Medicare card.
Depending on the country, you may need to pay for the health services upfront (and claim reimbursement after the event), or you may need to make a co-contribution to the cost of the treatment.
Does the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement Replace the Need For Travel Insurance or International Health Insurance?
Generally speaking, No. The extent of coverage under each reciprocal health agreement varies, and in some situations is only available for a limited period (eg. 6 to 12 months).
The reciprocal health care agreements provide for access to essential medical treatment only and would not usually be a substitute for what is covered on a travel insurance policy (for short term visitors) or a local health insurance policy or an international health insurance policy for someone who has moved to another country to live.
Depending on the terms of your visa and the laws of the country you are living in, you may also be entitled to additional subsidised medical treatment beyond what is available to you under the reciprocal health agreement.
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