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Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services

Australia - Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services

There are many options available to patients now when it comes to choosing your GP or dentist in Australia as the system now allows for a great deal more choice. There are different types of surgeries in Australia and the main thing is to find one that suits you. There are a number of websites that allow you to search for doctors that are registered such as the Medical Register of Australia and these are worth checking when you begin your search.

There are now very few doctor’s surgeries in Australia which only have one doctor. Most are group practices and there are few urban neighbourhoods that do not have a practice. Most are owned by the doctors that work there. Very often you will come across large medical centres in the cities and around one third of doctor’s practices take this form. These larger centres offer a wide range of services than the smaller practices so very often you are able to have an x-ray, blood tests, collect prescriptions and occasionally consult an alternative health practitioner without the need to go to another practice or to the local hospital. Some of these larger practices offer a 24 hour a day service too. Unfortunately the downside of the larger practices is that they can seem very impersonal. It is common in some areas of Australia for patients to make use of both types of practice, using the larger medical centres to pick up prescriptions or if they need an appointment in a hurry and using their preferred GP for ongoing problems and continuity of care.

It is recommended in Australia that when you are choosing a practice you should check their qualifications, which should be listed with their name outside the door to the surgery. A GP is not permitted to start in general practice until they have a qualification which allows them to specialise, but this is a new regulation. You may see the letters RACGP after their name, which means that they are a member of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and have studied for extra qualifications. GPs that have been qualified for many years will not need to do this but do need to undergo regular training to keep their registration. Some GPs will specialise in areas such as paediatrics or obstetrics, so you can choose your GP according to your health needs. Practices can also work towards an accreditation with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and this will be on display if it has been awarded.

You should also consider how the practice bills for its services. Some practices are happy to bulk bill so that the patient does not have to pay on the day or go to the trouble of claiming back monies from the Medicare system. Some still charge privately so that there is continual cash flow within the practice. Those that charge fees on the day usually charge more than can be claimed back from the Medicare system, but it is considered that this is acceptable as these practices are usually the ones that have doctors with more specialist skills and better facilities. Private healthcare insurance is a way in which you can claim back the difference between the cost and the Medicare refund.

You should be aware that there may be very little choice if you are living in a rural area and travelling to alternative practices is not always practical.

Similar criteria also apply to choosing a dentist. You are recommended to visit surgeries before choosing so that you can assess the quality of the dentist’s qualifications, the facilities at the surgery and the services that are available such as the number of dentists, dental education and connections with dental specialists. Most dental practices in Australia now have a website so you can often do all this from the comfort of your own home.

As you are not obliged to use one doctor or dentist all the time then it is simply a case of going along and making an appointment. All residents of the country have a choice of public or private healthcare so you are not restricted at all. Your first visit to a practice may involve a medical examination and questions about your general state of health so that they can keep accurate records.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.