Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the UK have reciprocal health agreements with Australia. If you are from one of these countries you may be entitled to free emergency health care although this sometimes limited if you are on a Working Holiday Visa.
Visitors from Ireland and New Zealand are entitled to subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and free treatment at public hospitals. Irish and New Zealand travellers do not have access to Medicare benefits for non-hospital care and are not issued with a Medicare card. You simply show your passport at the hospital or pharmacy.
Residents of Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK who visit Australia are entitled to subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, free treatment at public hospitals and Medicare benefits for treatment by doctors in private surgeries.
The reciprocal health care agreements don’t cover other medical expenses such as dental and chiropractic services, glasses and contact lenses, elective surgery or hospital treatment that is not considered necessary before returning home.
Travellers from countries covered by this scheme, except visitors from Italy and Malta, are covered for the duration of their permitted stay. Visitors from Italy and Malta are covered for six months from the date of arrival in Australia.
Contact Medicare (tel 13 20 11; website www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/public/migrants/visitors/) for more information on the reciprocal health scheme.
If you are not covered by a reciprocal health agreement you may want to take out comprehensive travel insurance or sign up with an Australian private health insurer. Australian Unity (tel 13 29 39; website www.australianunity.com.au) has a private health insurance policy for international visitors called Healthy Travel, which you may want to consider; although some travel insurance policies offer better value.