What is a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

If you get sick or have an accident while in Australia, the medical bills can be quite expensive. But visitors from certain countries may be able to access Medicare, the Australian public health system. Read on to find out if you’re eligible.

Written by Medibank
A smiling young man sits at a table in the pharmacy with a bandage on his arm and looks at the senior female pharmacist that has just given him the flu vaccination in relief.  His sister looks on.

Australia has arrangements with eleven countries—called Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA)—to allow most visitors from those places to use the Medicare public health system. Medicare allows Australians to access certain medical treatment or services at a subsidised price. If you're from one of these countries, you could save money on some of your medical treatments.

The RHCA is open to most visitors from:

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

If you’re coming to Australia from one of these countries, you generally won’t have to pay for medically necessary treatment as a public patient in a public hospital and you’ll pay a lower price for some medicines prescribed by your doctor.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if you’re eligible under a RHCA, you won’t be covered for all health care services, such as non-essential medical treatment, ambulance trips, visits to the dentist, or new glasses. And if you’re an international student from Finland, Norway, Malta or the Republic of Ireland, you won’t be covered under the RHCA. So either way it’s a good idea to take out private health insurance.

What if I’m from a country not on the list?

If you're coming to Australia from a country not on the list, or you're not eligible under your country's RHCA, you’ll have to pay for any doctor, hospital or ambulance bills yourself. These can be quite expensive. Give Medibank a call on 132 011 to find out about private health insurance options that meet the requirements of your visa.

If you want to find out more about the RHCA, visit the government RHCA page.

Written by Medibank

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