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Visitors to Australia

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements
Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with a number of countries, under which some health services and subsidised medicines are provided to visitors from those countries when they are in Australia.

The other signatories to the RHCA are New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway.

Entitlements for treatment for eligible visitors under RHCA include:

  • free treatment as a public in-patient or outpatient in a public hospital
  • subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • Medicare benefits to cover some out-of-hospital medical treatment provided by doctors through surgeries and community health centres (be aware that a co-payment usually applies).

However, the entitlements do not include treatment considered ongoing, elective or in a private hospital.

You can see more about RHCA entitlements here.

Dialysis entitlements
Visitors who are eligible under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreements may be entitled to use dialysis services as a public patient.

The number of dialysis treatments available depends on the availability of resources of a treating hospital.

Australia has agreed to provide RHCA visitors with free dialysis for the lesser of either a maximum period of four weeks (covering all service sites) or a maximum 12 sessions within a 12-month period from the date of first treatment.

However, it is important to note the following points:

  • Dialysis in Medicare-funded public dialysis units for eligible patients is based on clinical need.
  • The ability of the Australian health system to fund eligible overseas patients must not interfere with the physical, clinical and/or financial capacity of any area health service to meet clinical priorities for Australian residents.

In reality, travellers needing dialysis may have difficulty in finding spare capacity in public dialysis units. Dialysis is limited to one RHCA patient at each site, subject to staffing and resources. Each state may impose its own limits on free treatments offered.

What’s not covered
Dialysis is not covered under the following Reciprocal Health Care Agreements. Only emergency treatment is provided.

When seeking treatment, visitors from New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland should present their passport to Australian hospital clerical staff to be eligible for cover under Medicare. For visitors under an RHCA, access to public healthcare is restricted to a person ordinarily resident in New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland and temporarily in Australia. Such visitors will not be issued with Medicare cards.

Visitors from Finland, Norway and Sweden must take their passport and travel visa to a Medicare office to be registered and given a Medicare number. This card and number must be presented to hospital clerical staff to prove Medicare eligibility. Registration may be completed during or after your hospital stay. If you do not register you may be liable for the cost of treatment.

Visitors from Belgium, Slovenia and the Netherlands must present their current European health card and passport.

Visitors from Malta and Italy are only covered for six months from their date of arrival and must present their passport.

Seeking skilled work in Australia
To be eligible for skilled work in Australia, you and your family must meet strict health criteria.

You can find out about the health requirements prescribed by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection here.

More information about health insurance cover for these visitors to Australia is available here.

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