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Overseas visitors and dialysis
If you’re visiting Australia, you may be entitled to dialysis depending on where you’re from.
Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCAs) with the following 11 countries:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Republic of Ireland
- the Netherlands
In general, the agreement covers:
- medically necessary care out of hospital
- medically necessary care as a public patient in a public hospital
- some prescription medicines, at the general rate.
Entitlements do not include:
- ongoing treatment
- elective treatment
- treatment in a private hospital.
Dialysis in Australia for foreigners
The cost for dialysis in Australia will depend on whether you are eligible for dialysis as a public health patient under a RHCA.
If you are eligible, please be aware there are conditions and exemptions that differ from country to country. There are also some limitations. For example:
- public dialysis units for eligible patients is based on clinical need
- the number of sessions depend on how many resources a hospital has available
- dialysis services can only be given for a maximum of four weeks, or 12 sessions within 12 months, (whichever is less) from the date of first treatment
- attention given to overseas patients must not interfere with the physical, clinical and/or financial capacity needed for Australian residents
- publicly funded dialysis is limited to one RHCA patient at each site (subject to staffing and resources), meaning travellers may have difficulty finding capacity. Each state may impose its own limits on free treatments offered.
If you are not eligible under a RHCA, you will need to pay for dialysis at a private clinic unless you are covered by travel insurance that offers overseas dialysis in your policy.
Organising dialysis treatment
- If you are from New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland – present your passport to hospital staff to be eligible for cover under Medicare. You will not be issued with a Medicare card.
- If you are from Finland, Norway or Sweden – you must take your passport and travel visa to a Medicare office. You will then be registered and given a Medicare number, which must be presented to hospital staff. If you do not register, your costs for treatment may not be covered.
- If you are from Belgium, Slovenia or the Netherlands – you must present your current European health card and passport.
- If you are from Malta and Italy – you are only covered for six months from your date of arrival, and must present your passport.
- If you are from the United Kingdom – you may be eligible for medical care under Medicare. You’ll need to enrol to get services and payments.
- If you are a visitor from another country not mentioned above – you may pay for private dialysis in Australia but please check availability and ensure you have all financial quotes and disclosures ahead of time.
For more information, please visit Reciprocal Health Care Agreements on the Services Australia website.
If you’re still unsure, you’re welcome to email us at Kidney.Helpline@kidney.org.au or call our Helpline for more information: + 61 1800 454 363. Operating hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST; UTC+10:00).