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.

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 an 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 132 331 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.

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.

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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; messaging, WeChat, in-store or by phone.

Overseas students (OSHC)

Message one of our friendly staff about your cover options.

Visitor, working and working holiday (OVHC)

Speak to one of our friendly staff for sales and policy enquiries.

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Things you should know

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).