You have arrived in Australia and as you can see, some things run differently here compared to your home country. An example is the health system in Australia. Since your well-being comes first, it is important to understand what to do to get medical treatment in Australia. Depending on your needs (illness, accident or pregnancy) and your insurance, you might have to follow different procedures and get a different kind of support. Find out more about how to get the medical treatment you might need.
Seeing a doctor in Australia
Whether for a benign appointment or a more serious consultation, having to see a doctor is not unusual, even abroad.
In Australia, you first have to see a General Practitioner, commonly known as GP, if you are sick (except emergencies of course).
Making an appointment
It is advisable to make an appointment before going to the doctor. It is uncommon that a few GPs share a practice (called Family Practice or Medical Practice).
Some general practitioners specialise in certain areas, such as gynecology or pediatrics, which can be really helpful. If you know you have certain issues, e.g. skin-related, try to find a GP who specialises in dermatology.
Consultation hours are usually Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm) and sometimes Saturday mornings.
If you are on Medicare, you will get free consultations. Only with doctors who do “Bulk billing” though. So find out first who does it.
If you don’t have Medicare, note that consultation fees are quite high. Expect between 50 and 70 AUD for a simple consultation (10 to 15 min). Beyond 15 min the price of the consultation increases! Health in Australia comes at a price. Therefore, it’s best to have a complementary health insurance!
Quality of medical care
The quality of medical care in Australia is generally satisfactory. It seems that GPs don’t prescribe drugs at all costs. Instead, they give more lifestyle advice than heavy prescriptions.
Before going to a medical specialist (except for eye specialists and dentists), you first see a general practitioner. They will then provide you with a referral letter which you have to take to the specialist. This way you get reimbursed by Medicare or your complementary health insurance.
Of course, fees for specialists and longer consultations are even more expensive.
For the first session, which sometimes takes an hour, you pay around 150 -200 AUD. Follow-up consultations are usually shorter and therefore slightly cheaper.
Nevertheless, these are significant costs that again suggest the need for a good health insurance.
Hospitals in Australia
In Australia, hospitals are subject to the latest standards and open to all. There are two types of hospitals: public and private. Medical care and facilities are pretty good here. Nevertheless, hospitalisation is an expensive affair! Depending on where you’re from, many hospitals offer translation services if you have communication difficulties!
If you stay in a public hospital, you can use your Medicare coverage or your complementary health insurance.
Private hospitals are totally independent of Medicare. Therefore, you can’t use Medicare to get reimbursed. Most private hospitals have agreements with travel insurances though. Inquire about this, because private hospitality are generally better and faster!
It is difficult to give exact prices of medical treatments because they vary according to a number of parameters (location, needs etc.).
To give you an idea, a simple blood test can cost about $100 and a night in the hospital (single room) $1000. Ambulance fees are also very high. The need for private health insurance is even more obvious in this case!
In case of hospitalisation, you have to contact your insurance to find out what to do. Please keep your insurance card always on you!
Finding a hospital in Australia
It is relatively easy to find a hospital on the coast. If you go inland though, hospitals are hard to come by. This makes things a bit more difficult if you have an accident. So remember to get a first aid kit and some of the main drugs. No worries though, there are royal flying doctors and pilots waiting for emergency calls.
You find hospitals near you on the https://www.hospitalby.com website.
In case of emergency
The emergency number throughout Australia is triple zero: 000
You can call the Australian emergency number from any phone or public phone.
Pregnancy in Australia
As you can imagine, it can happen that a woman becomes pregnant during a Working Holiday or when travelling. To prevent this happy event from turning into a financial nightmare, it is important to inquire about what to do. Indeed in this case. You now know how much you’d spend for a simple blood test, imagine the medical treatment during pregnancy and birth. There are ultrasounds, blood tests, regular visits to the obstetrician etc. Depending on the town and hospital, costs for pregnancy can range from 9,000 to 30,000 AUD.
If you have Medicare, you can go to a public hospital. If not, you need to get health insurance asap and find the doctors and hospitals approved by your insurance company.
- Medicare – Australian Healthcare
- Pregnancy in Australia
- Emergency Phone numbers and doctors in Australia
Updated on the 15/01/2020. Initially published on the 04/01/2019.