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The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement – Should Australians Abroad Rely On Them?

reciprocal health care agreement

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).

reciprocal health care agreement

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.

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

For the latest list, and to understand the extent of cover you are entitled to under each reciprocal health care agreement, you should discuss with Dept of Human Services or review their website.

reciprocal health care agreement

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.

Is International Health Insurance Right For You?

Are you moving overseas or living overseas and are concerned that your health insurance is not sufficient.  Get a free online quote with Cigna Global, and understand what getting quality international health insurance will actually cost you.

reciprocal health care agreement
Are you unclear on the health insurance and medicare implications of moving abroad?  Download The Australian Expat Investor Free special report, here.

Disclaimer : This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial or taxation advice. As this information is not advice and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness for your circumstances. Independent advice should be obtained from an Australian financial services licensee before making investment decisions, and a registered (tax) financial advisor/accountant in relation to taxation decisions. To the extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for any loss or damage arising in any way.  We may receive referral commissions from companies mentioned in this article.



About the author


Craig is an Australian Expat and the founder of The Australian Expat Investor. Craig is passionate about investing, and while Craig cannot give personal financial or tax advice, Craig enjoys sharing investing, tax, and other tips for Australian expats to help them to build their wealth while living abroad and get the most out of their time living overseas. Get his free ebook on 9 Financial Surprises That Could Cost Australian Expats Thousands of Dollars

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