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A fresh start to Land Down Under is an exciting prospect. The weather is hot, the beer is cold, and the coastal town is worth seeing.
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But before you focus on the fun stuff, you need to think about some serious stuff — like healthcare. On this page, we'll tell you everything you need to know about the Australian healthcare system, including the ins and outs of Medicare.
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In short: yes, private health insurance in Australia is a good idea. More than half of Australians have some form of health insurance, and the country's public system is fairly extensive.
Wondering how much it will cost you and your family in Australia? You can start creating custom packages with Cigna. With over 95 million customers worldwide, Cigna has the reliability and knowledge to get you the right policy.
Australia's public health system, known as Medicare (not to be confused with the Medicare program in the US), provides basic hospital care, doctor appointments and medicines for free or at a lower cost. It is funded by a form of income tax.
Private systems operated by many medical companies include additional hospital services, as well as specialist care such as dentistry, ophthalmology, audiology, physiotherapy, nursing and ambulance.
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Unlike the UK, people in Oz rarely rely entirely on public health services. They usually buy a health insurance policy so they can use a combination of public and private healthcare.
It appears to be working: According to Ipsos, 81% of people in Australia rate the country's healthcare system as "good" or "very good" - the highest rate of the 27 countries studied.
Kinda. Australia's health insurance system ensures health care in public hospitals is free, but after that, the price tag starts to climb. Certain services and drugs are heavily subsidized, while others are paid entirely by patients.
There are also services not covered by Medicare - we'll cover them in more detail at the bottom of the page. While residents must pay out of pocket, the government subsidizes certain things through the Medicare Benefit Scheme (or MBS).
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In addition, you can reduce the cost of certain prescription drugs through the government's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
This means UK citizens get free healthcare in Australia, although if they become residents they will have to start paying income tax (learn more below).
There are also MBS and PBS safety nets that make sure you don't pay more than a certain amount each year for certain treatments and medicines.
It's really big -- we're talking over 3 million square miles. In fact, the distance between Portugal and Ukraine is smaller than the distance between Sydney and Perth.
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Medicare is funded by income taxes, which are 2% for most people. If you are a foreign resident of Australia and you are eligible for Medicare, you must pay Medicare tax.
However, depending on your or your spouse's financial situation, you may be eligible for a reduction or exemption.
If your annual income is less than $23,226 (or $36,705 if you are an elderly or retiree), your Medicare tax rate may be less than 2%.
The Medicare Tax Surcharge (MLS) ensures that people with higher incomes pay higher taxes. If your annual income is over A$90,000 (or over A$180,000 as a partner), you will be subject to an MLS levy of 1% to 1.5% of your income in addition to the standard 2% levy.
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You can avoid MLS with private health insurance. That's basically why MLS exists - to encourage people with higher incomes to buy private health insurance. If you have adequate health insurance, you will get a code from your insurance company that you can enter on your tax return, which will help you avoid MLS.
If you think private health insurance is right for you, start creating a custom plan with Cigna. With access to a global network of over 1.65 million trusted hospitals and doctors, you can rest assured that you will be well taken care of.
If you move to Australia and become a permanent resident there, you must pay Medicare tax on your income.
However, in most cases, people travelling to Australia only as tourists or short-term visitors do not have to pay Medicare tax and can use Medicare if their country has a reciprocal health agreement with Australia.
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For example, if you are on a working holiday in Australia, you are more likely to be a 'resident taxpayer', which means you will not have to pay Medicare tax.
Many people moving to Australia have a question to ask: "Should you take out health insurance?".
There is no "there". At the end of the day, you are not required by law to have health insurance in Australia, but it is a very good idea (nearly 55% of Australians have some kind of private health insurance).
This is why most private health insurance is divided into two categories: hospital insurance and general insurance. General insurance is more common when it comes to choosing one or the other (given that Medicare covers a fairly broad range of end-of-life care), but many people tend to choose both.
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Australia's public healthcare system is clearly not suitable for all citizens to rely on, and the Australian government acknowledges this. Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) fees are a way to encourage people to buy private health insurance.
How does it work? Well, if an Australian doesn't have adequate health insurance by July 1, after his 31st birthday, they'll face a 2% annual premium increase from then on. By the time you turn 65, this can add up to 70% extra, but no more than that.
The LHC does not apply to newcomers as long as they take out individual insurance within 12 months of enrolling in health insurance. Therefore, if you are planning to take out personal health insurance for your move to Australia, it is best to do so as early as possible.
As we mentioned further in the article, if your income is higher (i.e. more than $90,000 a year), you can avoid paying MLS by taking out health insurance.
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Like all public health care systems around the world, Medicare keeps people waiting for treatment. A recent study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) showed that 50 per cent of patients in 2020-21 underwent surgery within 48 days, up from 39 days the year before.
This applies to private health insurance worldwide. If you go private, you can choose your own hospital and doctor (from those associated with your provider) and you don't have to worry about dealing with huge medical bills. Also, you may have your own private room, which is rarely offered in public health services.
Most importantly, you can rest assured that you will receive quality care when and when you need it.
Expats often make decisions about their way of life in their new country based on the behavior of the locals. While in Rome!
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Well, when it comes to private health insurance, most Australians think it's a wise purchase. According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), as of December 2021, more than 14 million people in Australia (54.7% of the population) had general care insurance.
On average, private health insurance for individuals in Australia costs $157 per month (according to Finder).
According to research, the most expensive state for health insurance in Australia is Victoria, with a gold policy costing $258.77 per month.
Want to better understand how much private health insurance you and your family will cost in Australia? Start a tailor-made program for Cigna.
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Fortunately, to help you pay for your private health insurance, the Australian Government offers a tax rebate at the end of each tax year. However, it depends on whether you have the "appropriate level" of health insurance, which you can learn more about here.
The program is income-tested, so the higher your income, the lower the rebates you are entitled to. Use the official private health insurance rebate calculator to see how much you owe each year.
When it comes to healthcare costs in Australia, you should also be aware of the "gap". This is the difference between the doctor's fee and the amount your health insurance will cover.
Importantly, private health insurance in Australia does not cover services already covered by Medicare, such as specialist consultations and diagnostic tests in public hospitals. However, Medicare doesn't always cover the full cost of these services, so you'll pay the remainder.
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