Australia's healthcare system

by Befekir Kebede
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The Australian healthcare system has many different types services available to help you.  It provides a wide range of services, from population health and prevention through to general practice and community health, emergency health services, hospital care, rehabilitation and palliative care.

General practitioners (GPs) and emergency departments (EDs) act as the main gateways to other health services, including diagnostic tests, specialist consultations, hospital admission and inpatient care. Primary health care is the first point of call for most people for most illnesses. It's delivered in a variety of settings, including at general practices, community health centres and at home.Primary care is provided by doctors, along with community nurses, dentists, pharmacists and other allied health professionals. 

Administered by the Federal Government, Medicare is the publicly funded universal health care system in Australia. It coexists with a private health system. Medicare is funded partly by a 2% Medicare levy (with exceptions for low-income earners), with the balance being provided by government from general revenue. An additional levy of 1% is imposed on high-income earners without private health insurance. As well as Medicare, there is a separate Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme also funded by the Federal Government which considerably subsidises a range of prescription medications.

If you are eligible, Medicare covers:

  • free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists, and in
  • specific circumstances, dentists, and other allied health practitioners
  • free treatment and accommodation for public Medicare patients in a public hospital
  • 75% of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital – this does not include hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) lists services that are subsidised by the Australian Government under Medicare. Check if a service is listed under Medicare on the Department of Health MBS Online website. 

You can enroll for Medicare online if you are eligible.