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Health Service

Australia - Health Service

The complexity of Australia's health system can be described as a web of service providers, recipients, and organizational structures. This is to be expected in any system of such magnitude and cost. An estimated $140.2 billion was spent on health services between 2011 and 2012, which was approximately 9.5% of the GDP. This shows that the health expenditure is growing at a faster rate than the population growth. This was attributed to societal changes such as an increase in chronic conditions and an aging population. Spending on health has also been affected by personal income, broader economic trends, and new technologies. This is also an indication of the intertwined relationship between health and society.

Who are the users of the Australian health system?

Australian citizens, overseas visitors on a temporary and permanent visa and asylum seekers are the main users of the Australian health system. In 1984, the universal public health insurance scheme Medicare was set up by the government to provide subsidized professional health treatment. It was made up of three essential parts namely: hospital, medical, and pharmaceuticals.

Patients in public hospitals are to receive free treatment. The fees for professional health services on the Medicare benefits list are covered by the scheme as well as subsidization of prescription medicine.

It is possible to combine Medicare and private insurance. However, one may choose to have Medicare cover only. Medicare covers the cost of the entire treatment as well as the accommodation for patients who visit public hospitals.

In private hospitals, Medicare covers 75% of the service expenses and procedures excluding accommodation, theatre fees, and medication. The scheduled fees covered by the Medicare scheme are set by the government in consultation with medical professional bodies.

Some of the medical services that are not covered by Medicare include:
• Ambulance services
• Most dental examinations and treatment
• Prescription lenses, glasses, hearing aids or any other appliances
• Psychiatric services, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, eye therapy, speech therapy or any other type of therapy
• Home nursing

The following are some of the countries with whom the Australian Government has signed a Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA):
• Sweden
• UK
• New Zealand
• Norway
• Finland
• Republic of Ireland
• Belgium
• Malta
• The Netherlands
• Italy
• Slovenia

Nationals of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Slovenia are required to carry their European national health card to access Medicare. Maltese and Italians are covered for a period of six months from the date of arrival. Individuals who received a subclass 410 visa before December 1 1998 or a retiree's visa are eligible for Medicare under the RCHA of their home country.

All students with an Australian visa are covered under Medicare and are entitled to free inpatient and outpatient treatment in all public hospitals. They also receive all medication under the Pharmaceutical benefits scheme at a subsidized cost.

Individuals can also choose to receive treatment outside of the hospital. This is through private doctors’ practices as well as community health centers. Some of the ways these doctors can charge for their services includes the following.

They may opt to bill Medicare directly by having the patient sign a completed bulk bill form. The doctor may give the patient a bill prior to the consultation. The patient may choose to pay the bill or submit the unpaid bill to Medicare.

Legislation regarding smoking

More than 12.8% of the people in Australia aged 14 and above smoked on a daily basis in 2013. This was a decline from 2010's statistics, which showed 15.1% of the population used to smoke daily. A quarter of the population is made up of ex-smokers and this has remained constant since 1998. These numbers indicate that the number of daily smokers has dropped by half since 1991. The number of people who have never smoked tobacco has also increased significantly.

The male and female population of smokers dropped significantly in 2010 and 2012. The number of female smokers was lower than that of their male counterparts as observed in previous years. There were more smokers among the older age group compared to those of younger age groups. Males aged 40-49 and females aged 20-29 were more likely to smoke daily.

As of January 2013, smoking is banned in the following public places:
• Individuals should not smoke within 10 meters of a children's outdoor playground.
• Sports grounds, spectator areas, and other recreational areas are no smoking zones.
• Smoking at swimming pool complexes is illegal.
• Smoking at light rail stops, light rail stations, taxi ranks, bus stations, and ferry wharves is illegal.
• Smoking within four meters of a pedestrian access point to a building is illegal.
• Smoking in a vehicle with a child inside is illegal.
• Advertising of tobacco products in Commonwealth workplaces as well as airports, aircrafts, trains, and federally registered motor coaches is illegal.

There are various counselling services available for expats, including the following.

This counseling service provider is located along 54-56 Alexander Street, Crow’s Nest, New South Wales 2065. They offer support to men who seek to achieve their greatest potential in all aspects of their lives. To contact Menstuff call 0411 411 103.

Parramatta Couples Therapy
This practice is owned by the renowned psychotherapist Lidia Smirnov and is located in North Parramatta in Sydney's CBD. She specializes in relationship and marriage counseling and works with a team of experienced relationship therapists at Clinton Power + Associates. Her address is 1 Gibbons Street, Telopea New South Wales 2117, you can also call her on 2117 040 921 223 or visit www.clintonpower.com.au.

Sydney Individuals and Couples Counseling
This counseling facility offers services to individuals, couples, and families. It is run by professional psychotherapists and counselors and is located in North Sydney and in Brookvale. The firm’s address is 13 Dale Street, Brookvale New South Wales 2100. You may contact them by phone 0422 306 679 or email liz@sydneyindividualsandcouplescounselling.com.

Read more about this country

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.