What happens if I get sick in Australia?

Melbourne’s Sporting Precinct, Vic.  Photo credit: Roberta Seba/Tourism Victoria


What happens if I get sick in Australia? What if I need emergency treatment? An ambulance? A dentist? Will Medicare cover me?

Medicare is Australia’s version of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The Australian system has an agreement in place with certain countries, including the UK, which entitles tourists to limited (usually emergency) access to Medicare services.

You can find out whether you qualify – and to what extent – here.

Even if Medicare doesn’t cover your requirements, your travel insurance should. Just make sure you have a copy of your cover. In order to qualify for care under the Medicare system, you need to enrol in it.

Visit your local Medicare office and take your passport and/or travel documents with you. You can find more, including the location of your nearest Medicare office, here.

Do I Still Need Health Insurance?

In short, yes. Even if you’re from a country that shares a reciprocal agreement for free emergency treatment (eg the UK), you’ll still have to pay for the following if you’re uninsured:

  • Non-emergency treatment
  • Ambulance costs
  • Dental examinations and treatment
  • Non-subsidised medicines
  • Most therapies
  • Glasses and contact lenses

Without travel insurance, you’ll be liable for any medical bills you accrue.

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