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No worries mate, maintaining a healthy lifestyle in Australia is still affordable – just put on your running shoes and head out to the beach! However, if you fall ill and require medical care, Australia’s rising healthcare costs are going to cost you more if you’re a non-resident expat.

Australia’s healthcare system is renowned for the exceptional care offered to patients and is a true example of how a hybrid private and public healthcare system can work to offer the very best care to people from all walks of life.

If you are resident in Australia, you are entitled to become a member of the government-run Medicare insurance scheme, which gives you access to all the public medical facilities and you can affordably join a private medical aid in order to access private facilities and cover the costs that Medicare doesn’t cover. Non-resident expats have to pay to receive medical care and the costs are rising.

What non-residents should know about Australia’s healthcare

Compulsory private insurance

One of the criteria for being granted a work visa when moving to Australia, is proving you are adequately covered by private health insurance, even if you are an expat from a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia.

Unfortunately, these costs are increasing and your private healthcare can cost more than AU$500 per person every month. These costs can be crippling, especially if you are retired in Australia and not a permanent resident with access to the state-funded Medicare scheme. As a result many expats, especially retirees are leaving Australia for countries where they can access medical treatment more affordably.

Expats who enjoy Reciprocal Health Care Agreements

If you are a non-resident expat national from New Zealand, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Malta, Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Norway, Belgium and Sweden, you will enjoy a certain amount of medical subsidisation related to immediate, necessary care and emergencies which includes:

  • Free treatment in both in-patient and out-patient public hospitals
  • Subsidised drugs
  • Medical treatment at community health centres

The affordable benefits of Medicare

If you are lucky enough to be an expat with permanent residency in Australia, you will have access to the government-run Medicare insurance scheme. If you are entitled to be a member of this scheme you enjoy many basic medical treatments free, and have access to free treatment at all the state hospitals.

Unlike the NHS state system in the UK, you will still have to pay a nominal amount to visit a GP and a visit to a specialist in their private rooms will only be funded partially. You can visit a specialist free-of-charge if you visit them through a state hospital, where you will be faced with longer waiting periods.

As a resident under Medicare, you will also be expected to pay a certain amount towards any medication you receive. Medicare does not cover ambulances, even in an emergency, optometrists, dentists, physiotherapists or any alternative treatment. So even as a Medicare member, it’s advisable you do have some form of basic private insurance to cover you for these costs.

If you’re thinking of immigrating to Australia and need advice concerning your finances, contact us today. We’re here to help you unlock your South African wealth and put you on the path to financial freedom in your new home.
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