The Australian healthcare system is highly developed and advanced. However, it is important to understand what is covered in the public system and what is not.
When you arrive in Australia as a migrant with permanent residency, you are generally allowed to join Medicare and therefore gain immediate access to those health care services.
It makes the distinction between services which are hospital-based and those which you receive outside a hospital such as Doctor’s appointment or a visit to the dentist.
However, Medicare, whilst designed to meet the majority of any individual’s healthcare needs, is not a comprehensive solution. Many native Australians, as well as newer migrants, choose to take out an additional private health insurance plan which will ‘top up’ the Medicare service.
Private Health Insurance
Whilst Medicare acts as a primary source of health cover, many people choose to take an additional private health insurance policy designed to give you greater choice and options for things which are not covered in the Medicare system.
Indeed, for some overseas visitors or categories of migrants, it is actually a requirement to have an adequate level of health insurance prior to your departure for Australia in order for the visa to be granted.
For example, before you are granted a 457 temporary business visa, you have to demonstrate that you have organised sufficient private health insurance for both yourself and any family members who may moving with you. You are also required to ensure that the cover is maintained for the entire length of your visa. Failure to do so would count as a breach of your visa requirements.
In order to ensure that the interests of consumers of private health insurance are protected, the government set up an ombudsman to handle dispute resolution and provide advice and guidance about issues affecting consumers. The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) also provides information and advice to consumers.