Medical Cover Overseas - Medicare and Reciprocal Health Arrangements
It is important to appreciate that Australian Medicare will not cover any medical or hospital costs incurred outside Australia. There are a few situations however where access to foreign public health systems is available on a reciprocal basis, as a consequence of agreements between Australia and individual countries.
Below we include a couple of the common questions asked in relation to Medicare by expatriate and overseas travellers:
Q : In what countries do I have access to reciprocal medical treatment?
A : Currently, New Zealand, UK, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Norway and Slovenia. Note that students are not covered under agreements with Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland.
For up to date details of the countries offering reciprocity and to access details of what is, and what is not, covered by these arrangements, you should refer to the Medicare website.
These Reciprocal Healthcare arrangements should not be seen as replacing the need for travel insurance or international health insurance if available.
Q : Does my access to Medicare expire if I move overseas, and if so how long do I need to be away?
A: : The Health Insurance Commission (HIC) provides that, “You will need to provide documents to support your residency in Australia or your severing of ties with the previous country of residence if you are an Australian citizen returning to Australia to reside after living overseas for more than five years”.
Thus, as long as your absence does not exceed five years, you should expect continued coverage by Medicare. If you have any doubts about your circumstances, as regards Medicare, you should contact Medicare directly and remember that Medicare will not cover any medical or hospital costs incurred outside Australia.
Note that we believe there is an increasing probability that Medicare access will become directly dependent on your being an Australian tax resident - limiting the ability of Australians living overseas to access public hospital and medical treatment while back in Australia on a short term basis.