The Australian Healthcare System
Australia has a great healthcare system. Medicare is Australia’s universal health scheme. It guarantees all citizens (and some overseas visitors) access to a wide range of health services at little or no cost.
Our medical facilities and healthcare professionals are all excellent, thanks in part to Medicare, but as a visitor to Australia, using any of them could end up costing you a small fortune if you don't have travel insurance.
There are two components that make up the Australian healthcare system:
- The public health system administered by the Australian Government, known as Medicare and,
- the private health system.
Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia. (RHCA)
The following countries have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RCHA) with Australia. This covers the cost of medically necessary care when visitors from these countries visit Australia. Under the RHCA scheme, you may be entitled to limited Medicare benefits. Benefits are only for basic medical services or only for emergency treatment and only under certain conditions. Many items such as ambulance, dental work, subsidised medicines, and private patient hospital costs or other ancillary/extras cover or services are not covered. For more information see - Reciprocal Health Care Agreement
RHCA Member Countries
Do I need insurance for Australia?
Legally no, unless you’re here on a visa for longer than two years (e.g. a working holiday visa). But we highly recommend it, no matter what country you’re visiting from. Paying for insurance isn’t much compared to the cost of your holiday, and could save you a whole lot of money and stress in the long run.
There is no mutual health treatment agreement in place with other countries, such as America or Europe. So travel insurance is definitely something you need to sort out before you leave home.
What to do if you have an accident?
If you have an accident that requires medical treatment while in Australia, the first thing to do is seek medical attention.
Once you have been attended to you and you are eligible, you will be given a Medicare claim form to fill in. The doctor will give you a copy and will send a copy to Medicare. If you are not entitled to Medicare you will be required to pay.
In Australia, we are proud of our medical care, but sometimes for all sorts of reasons hospitals can be overtaxed when patient numbers run high. You will be treated accordingly, depending on the severity of your injury.
For less urgent cases there can be a considerable waiting time if you are in the Accident and Emergency department of a hospital. This is for less critical injuries so it may be better to seek a private Healthcare Clinic or a similar primary care provider. If you are unsure, seek the advice of a local.
There are private hospitals in Australia which generally offer a higher standard of accommodation with private rooms opposed to 'wards' that house up to six beds, but most do not offer the acute care required after a serious accident.
Contacting Emergency Services
Emergency Services - Dial: Triple Zero (000)
A critical incident or situation where the safety of people or property is at risk e.g. a fire, a crime in progress or a medical crisis - such as someone having a heart attack – Don’t hesitate to call 000 this number will get you through to the Police, Fire brigade and Ambulance.
The Scuba Diver Emergency Service
Divers Alert Network: This is a 24 hours 7 days a week Diver Emergency Service for advice and treatment of all diving related incidents, accidents or injuries, including the emergency management of Decompression Sickness. If you don't feel well or if you are in pain after diving Call 1800-088 200 toll free if you have any concerns
What to do if I have a car accident?
Your first concern if you are involved in a car accident is your own personal well-being. If you do happen to be involved in an accident, you should do the following:
- First of all, check to see if anyone is injured. If emergency assistance is required, dial 000 for an ambulance.
- If after the accident (minor or otherwise) you are not comfortable driving the vehicle, call Roadside Assistance (this service is provided with all of our car hire packages). Notify the car hire company.
- Do not leave the vehicle without making sure it is safe.
- Write down the names and addresses of all people involved (including any witnesses).
- Never admit liability. You may be in shock, and there is a huge range of factors that can contribute to an accident.
What should I do if I've been involved in a minor car crash? – The Law.
After a non-injury crash, you should swap names and addresses with other motorists involved. If the crash involved another person's property, such as a fence, you should report it to the owner of the property within 48 hours of the crash. If the owner cannot be located report to police within 60 hours of the crash.
All crashes resulting in injury (such as broken bones or a night in hospital) should be reported to local police as soon as is practicable and no later than 24 hours from the time of the crash.
24-Hour Assistance - We’re there when you need us!
First Light Travel provides free phone support for our clients while travelling in Australia. If something untoward happens to you, our support crew will jump to action and work quickly and efficiently to resolve issues.
We are based down here, so support happens in real time: no delay waiting for an agent based in the Northern Hemisphere to wake up. But don’t take our word for it, Hear what hundreds of Travelers say about our service.
Since 2001 we’ve been helping visitors plan their dream Australian holiday. We aim to make visiting our beautiful land effortless. Let our expert holiday planners put together an itinerary for you, no obligation FREE of charge, or get some friendly advice on what small group tour would suit - Just follow the link and answer a few brief questions.