If you are planning on coming to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, it is strongly recommended you take out good health insurance. According to the conditions set by the immigration office you are obliged to take out insurance before leaving for Australia. Whether you leave for Australia on a Working Holiday visa or traveling the world, you will probably spend several months in Australia. It is therefore essential to get Working Holiday Travel Insurance in case of an accident or even for a simple checkup. Here are some reasons for getting good health insurance.
(Social) Healthcare insurance of home countries not applicable
Beware if you come from a country with a social healthcare system. If you leave your country of residence, you will be considered an expat and will most likely not be covered by the social healthcare system of your home country. This means that in case of an accident, you will be required to bear the costs of medical treatment.
Expensive Health Care in Australia
As the Australian Health Care System (Medicare) is limited to citizens and permanent residents, travellers or temporary residents are not entitled to claim any benefits from Medicare.
Citizens of the United Kingdom,the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Slovenia, Malta can benefit from Medicare thanks to bilateral agreements with Australia. Compared to Australian citizens, they don’t get full coverage though. Therefore it is important to learn about the scope of coverage and subsequently take out additional travel insurance if necessary.
The cost of living is high in Australia. The same goes for medical expenses, hospitalisation, etc. Here some examples of prices:
- Consultation with a general practitioner: 70 AUD;
- Consultation at a dentist: 150 AUD;
- One day of hospitalisation: 1500 AUD excluding care.
If you did not get any health insurance that covers you in Australia, these expenses are obviously yours.
Unsuitable Bank Card Insurance
Some travellers leave with a Visa Master or Gold Mastercard, thinking they will be covered no matter what. First of all, note that blue card insurance generally only covers you for a maximum period of three months. Working Holiday Makers usually come to Australia anywhere between six to 24 months. Moreover, in general these cards only cover emergencies and repatriations, not traditional care such as consultations and checkups.
Health Risks in Australia
It is also important to be aware of Australia being a country populated by insects and other animals that can be dangerous.
By leaving for a few months, or even for one or two years, to Australia you will be of risk of having accidents. Nevertheless, every year backpackers leave for Australia without insurance. They think to save themselves some money, but end up finding themselves in really delicate situations. Australia can be an adventurous country and it is not uncommon to undertake exciting activities such as skydiving, scuba diving, cliff jumping etc. Inherently, the risk of accidents is higher when the danger can be part of the excitement. Even during a road trip, you might run into accidents. In the worst case we must also think about our families. In case of death, the cost of repatriation of the body and funeral expenses can be extremely expensive. Nobody wants to think about these things, but they do happen and it is better to be prepared beforehand.
Aside from the risk of accident you can get sick while traveling in Australia. A simple cold, food poisoning, a toothache…small annoyances of everyday life that can quickly eat up your travel budget if you do not have insurance.
For more information: Health risks in Australia
Insects and Animals
Koalas and kangaroos aren’t the only animals that call Australia home! Pay particular attention to mosquitoes! Although the risk is low, cases of dengue have been revealed in northern Queensland. Mosquitoes are also vectors of transmission of the Ross River virus or Murray Valley encephalitis (similar to Japanese encephalitis). Again, the risk is very low, but it is never too safe to protect yourself against mosquito bites. To you the lemongrass-scented bracelets and mosquito repellent sprays!
Also beware of the spiders, some are poisonous and even deadly if not treated quickly, the best known is the Redback.
Other reputedly dangerous animals such as sharks, crocodiles, jellyfish, snakes are to be avoided! For example, 788 snakebites, or more than two bites per day, were recorded in 2018 in Queensland. This does not mean that during your trip, you will come across these animals but you just have to be aware that there are many poisonous snakes and spiders in Australia to worry about.
Finally, even if the risk is minimal, stay away from bats, some would carry a virus close to rabies.
A few answers to a Facebook post within the travellers community that asked: “have people already left for Australia without health insurance”. Here some of the responses:
Rachel Tdm: I know someone who had to pay 3,000 dollars for a broken leg and hospitalisation. Not worth taking the risk!
La Monica Jonathan: Yes, I left for Australia without health insurance. It was crap. I was feeling a sick but could not go to the doctor because the examination would have cost 300 dollars!
Sea Liah: A tip. Never take the risk of leaving without health insurance. Make sure you have it before you come to Australia!
Laurie Nwlrs: A 77 dollar consultations for a doctor…I rather get reimbursed.
Jessica Van Takes: I got health insurance beforehand and it already paid off! Four stitches was 500 dollars. The following infection would have cost me 150 dollars! All that from cutting a tomato – we are save from nothing:)
Chaden Al Khani: 85 dollars for a visit to the hospital…You never know, get insurance!
Umberto Salamone: Do not come without! The costs are really high here. If you get the slightest problem you will pay 10 times more than if you had taken insurance!