Medicare in Australia

Medicare is designed to provide Australians with free or low-cost medical, optometrical and hospital care. The 3 main parts of Medicare relate to medical (doctors/specialists visits), hospital (free treatment as a public patient in a public hospital) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (providing subsidised medication).

Medicare is funded by taxes and the Medicare Levy—a special tax of 2% of taxable income (a variation to this calculation may occur in certain circumstances).

Many overseas visitors are ineligible for Medicare while those from countries with which Australia has a Reciprocal Arrangement may be entitled to a limited form of Medicare.

Overseas visitors should contact HICA to discuss their entitlements and request a health insurance assessment.

Medicare Benefits

Australia's Medicare system has three parts:


If you choose to be a Medicare (public) patient, you can be treated, at no charge, in a public (Government owned) hospital by a doctor appointed by the hospital. You cannot choose your own doctor and treatment may not be immediately available for non-emergency conditions.


In hospital - under Medicare, you can be treated in a public hospital, at no charge, by a doctor appointed by the hospital. If you elect to be a private patient Medicare will cover you for 75% of the Government Scheduled (MBS) Fee for medical costs associated with being a private patient in a hospital.

Out of hospital - Medicare will reimburse 85% of the MBS Fee for your treatment. If your doctor bulk bills Medicare, you will not have to pay anything.


Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) you pay only part of the cost of most prescription medicines purchased at pharmacies. The rest of the cost is covered by the PBS. The Government decides how much you pay towards the cost of PBS medicines. The Australian Government pays the remaining cost.

Access to Medicare

Access to Medicare

Medicare eligibility is generally restricted to people living permanently in Australia who are:

People visiting or living temporarily in Australia generally do not have access to full Medicare and should consider purchasing appropriate health insurance designed for people who have no or limited access to Medicare. Under some Visas, the purchase of appropriate health insurance will be a requirement.

More information about Medicare