What is Medicare Healthcare? Medicare – Australias Healthcare Scheme is a universal health insurance scheme. It was introduced in 1984, with the aim of making health care affordable, giving greater access to health services and at a higher standard. Each person who works and pays taxes in Australia contributes to the medicare tax or levy. The levy is 2% of your gross salary. Who is eligible for Medicare? People who live in Australia and: hold Australian citizenship have been issued with a permanent visa hold New Zealand citizenship, or have applied for a permanent visa (other requirements apply). How to sign up for Medicare To sign up for Medicare call into a local Medicare office or call 132 011 to ask for a sign up form. Those applying will be asked to present proof that they are eligible for medicare. To find out what documents you will need to present call the Medicare office in advance. Reciprocal health care agreements The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with eight other countries. These countries include New Zealand, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Malta, Belgium, and Ireland. Under these arrangements, residents of these countries are entitled to restricted access to health cover while visiting Australia. Ireland is included in this. To read more on Australia’s reciprocal health care agreements click here. Each country has a different reciprocal agreement set up with Australia varying in its duration and what benefits you are entitled to. Here are a list of some of the services which are not covered by the agreement, and it would be wise to look into alternate health insurance cover for these services. Dental cover Ambulance cover Hospital accommodation and treatment Funeral arrangements Elective treatments Because the above mentioned services are not covered it is important for all visitors to Australia to get both travel and health insurance designed for overseas visitors. If you are not eligible for Medicare what to do 1. Claim back your medicare contributions Each person working in Australia contributes 2% of their gross wage, through their taxes to the Medicare system. You can claim back your medicare contribution for each tax year. To claim back your contribution you will need to do three things: Download a Medicare levy exemption certification application and fill it out *Get certified copies of the photo page of your passport and all pages that have Australian arrival stamps Evidence of your visa to cover the period you are claiming for. This can be a certified copy of the page in your passport of the visa, or if your visa was issued electronically a print out of the entire email from DIAC. *There are a number of authorised people that can certify documents. These include police officers, pharmacists, justice of the peace, legal practitioners, medical practitioners. Send all of the information to the following address: Levy Exemption Certification Unit Department of Human Services GPO Box 9822 HOBART TAS 7001 Once you receive an exemption certification from medicare you should include this letter when doing your tax return and the full amount will be returned to you. 2. Get private health insurance When arriving in Australia on a working holiday visa it is mandatory to have health insurance for the year as a requirement of the visa. I had Irish health insurance. Its important to check if your health insurance from your home country, will cover you for the entire time you expect to live in Australia. My Irish health insurance provider only covered me for up to one year living outside of Ireland. After the year was up I switched to an Australian health insurance provider. Because I was on a 457 visa BUPA Australia had special health insurance for me which was tailored towards people that are on temporary working visas. I was looking for something that would cover doctors visits, medication and ambulance cover. BUPA built a perfect package around my needs. Here is some information on BUPAs 457 visa cover. Check out the BUPA website for more details on health cover. *Disclaimer: While all efforts are made to ensure information is factual, the Moving2Oz team recommend checking the Australian Medicare Site as it is constantly changing and updating and it would be worth your while looking at it to verify information.