Are you covered by a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCAs) entitle citizens from specific countries to receive some subsidised health services for essential medical treatment while visiting Australia.

The Australian Government has signed RHCAs with the following countries:

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

If you’re travelling from one of the above countries, you’ll need to enrol in Medicare before you can receive any subsidised health services. Refer to the Department of Human Services website to see whether you’re eligible for Medicare, and if so, how to enrol.

What do RHCAs cover?

This information was correct on 28 November 2016. You can view the most up-to-date details on the Australian Government website.

UK, Sweden, Finland & Norway
Receive medically necessary treatment* in a public hospital as a public in-patient or out-patient Free
Receive Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment (e.g. GP or specialist visits)† Yes
Receive subsidised medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Yes
Period of cover Covered for the length of your stay in Australia
Belgium, Netherlands & Slovenia
Receive medically necessary treatment* in a public hospital as a public in-patient or out-patient Free
Receive Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment (e.g. GP or specialist visits)† Yes
Receive subsidised medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Yes
Period of cover Covered until the expiry date shown on your European Health Insurance card or the length of your authorised stay in Australia if that is an earlier date
Italy & Malta
Receive medically necessary treatment* in a public hospital as a public in-patient or out-patient Free
Receive Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment (e.g. GP or specialist visits)† Yes
Receive subsidised medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Yes
Period of cover Covered for a period of six months from the date of your arrival in Australia
NZ & Rep. of Ireland
Receive medically necessary treatment* in a public hospital as a public in-patient or out-patient Free
Receive Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment (e.g. GP or specialist visits)† No
Receive subsidised medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Yes
Period of cover Covered for the length of your stay in Australia

* Medicare defines medically necessary treatment as any ill-health or injury that occurs during your stay and requires treatment before returning home.

† Out-of-pocket costs may apply if you visit a doctor who does not bulk bill.

Refer to the Australian Government website for any restrictions or special considerations that apply to international students and retirees.

Do you still need to buy health insurance?

RHCAs are not designed to replace private health insurance. For example, they do not cover things like treatments in private hospitals, ambulance services, or extras services such as dental, physio and optical. You can find a full list of exclusions on the Australian Government website.

Illness and accidents can happen at any time, and medical costs in Australia can be very high. Getting health insurance can help to protect you against some of these costs.

It’s also important to note that even if you’re covered by an RHCA, you may still need to maintain health insurance to satisfy your visa requirements.

Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)

The MLS is an additional tax that may affect you if you're:

  • in Australia on a working visa
  • single and earning over $90,000 a year (or a couple or family earning over $180,000 a year)
  • considered a resident in Australia for tax purposes
  • successfully enrolled in Medicare (for any level of benefits, including reciprocal and interim)

You might be able to avoid paying this extra tax by buying an appropriate level of resident’s hospital cover (not OVC). Call us on 13 29 39 to find out whether this extra tax might apply to you, and if so, whether you can save money by buying private hospital insurance.

Find out more about the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

Looking to buy Overseas Visitors Cover?