What to do if you get sick in Australia

Here is a simple guide to help you get the right medical attention if you need it.

Minor illnesses, such as a coughs, colds or sore throats, can be treated with over-the-counter medicine from a pharmacy, but there are times when you may need medical attention.

If you or someone you’re with is seriously injured or in need of urgent medical help, call Triple Zero (000). If you're sick, but it's not a life-threatening emergency and you do not require immediate medical attention, your first stop should be to see a GP. 

What’s a GP?

In Australia, the local doctor is called a GP, or a General Practitioner. 

A GP can help you by diagnosing and treating pain, diseases and other health issues. They can also help with mental health support, vaccines, referrals for tests or scans, managing and treating wounds, prescribe medication if required, as well as referring you to specialist doctors. Some GPs also specialise in women’s health.

Where can I find a GP? 

GPs can have their own independent practice, or be part of a larger group of medical practitioners in a medical centre.

If you hold Medibank’s OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover), you can visit one of our Direct Billing Clinics or have one of our out of hours partners visit your home. These clinics have an agreement with Medibank to send the bill directly to us. This is to help reduce or eliminate the upfront payment you would normally be required to make at the time of your appointment. Depending on the Doctor you see, you may on occasion experience an 'out-of-pocket' expense which is not covered by Medibank. Please ensure you confirm any 'out-of-pocket' expenses you may have to pay prior to your consultation by contacting the direct billing clinic. Remember to take your Medibank OSHC membership card - or digital card available in the Medibank OSHC App - and photo identification, such as your student ID card with you to your next appointment. 

For Medibank OSHC you can find an OSHC Direct Billing clinic here.

For ahm OSHC you can find an OSHC Direct Billing clinic here

For Overseas workers or visitors, make an appointment to visit a GP near where you are staying. Simply search ‘local GP’ in your browser.

How does Medibank help with your GP visit?

If you have Medibank overseas health cover, we’ll contribute to the cost of GP visits if out-of-hospital medical is included in your cover. Check your cover summary to see if your cover includes GP visits. 

Medicare, the Australian public health system, sets a fee (known as the Medicare Benefits Schedule Fee, or MBS Fee) for GP visits. As long as it’s included in your cover, Medibank will pay at least 100% of the MBS Fee for GP visits. Most of the time you’ll have to pay the GP’s fee first, then claim the benefit for the MBS Fee back from us afterwards. If your GP charges more than the MBS Fee, you'll have to pay the difference, which means the amount you get back from us may be less than the amount you paid. This difference is called an out-of-pocket cost because it literally comes out of your own pocket.

For example, if you see a GP and are billed with item 23 (standard attendance lasting less than 20 minutes), the MBS fee is currently $38.75^. If your GP charges $50, you’ll get the MBS Fee of $38.75 back from Medibank, meaning your out-of-pocket cost will be $11.25. 

It’s a good idea to ask your GP what your visit will cost beforehand, and to give Medibank a call to find out how much you’ll get back.

^MBS fees are set by the Australian Government Department of Health, and are subject to change at any time without prior notice. 

Can I get anything back for the cost of medicine?

Overseas Student Health Cover, Overseas Workers Premium Hospital, Medical and Extras, and some standalone Extras covers include benefits for pharmaceuticals. This means if you have either of these covers, you can get help with some of the cost of prescription-only medication prescribed by a GP or specialist outside of hospital. Some medicines (like most oral contraceptives) are excluded, and you may have annual limits on how much you can claim, so it’s worth reading your cover summary and member guide to know exactly what’s included in your cover. 

What about hospitals?

Hospitals are generally used for medical emergencies and for operations. In Australia, there are public hospitals (owned and run by state governments) and private hospitals. If it’s not an emergency, sometimes it can take a long time to be treated in the public hospital system, and you don’t always get to choose your doctor. 

Medibank has partnerships with 491* private hospitals and day surgeries in Australia - called our Members' Choice network - so you have greater choice in where to have your medical treatment. When you visit a Members' Choice hospital you'll generally get better value for money compared to a non-Members' Choice private hospital, as long as the service you receive is covered by our agreement with the hospital and is included in your cover.

Medicare also sets an MBS Fee for hospital treatments by a doctor, surgeon or anaesthetist. Like with GP visits, you can claim back at least the equivalent of the MBS Fee from Medibank, if the service you’re getting is included in your policy. 

Click here to find out when you may need to visit a hospital in Australia.

Looking for something else?

Visit our Overseas Health Cover Guides homepage to find more information and advice.

Your guide to navigating Australian healthcare

Most visitors to Australia have no access to Medicare. Like most countries in the world, health care costs in Australia can be expensive.

Need some help?

We’re here to help you choose the health cover that matches your needs while you’re in Australia. Contact Medibank how it suits you; online 24/7, WeChat, in-store or by phone.

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Things you should know

* As at September 2020

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).

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