Everyone should know when they travel overseas that they should purchase travel insurance for peace of mind – but there’s also something else that could put you at ease: the Australian Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with a number of countries.
This agreement means that when Australian residents travel to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway, they can be covered for the cost of essential medical treatment.
It should be noted that Reciprocal Health Care Agreements aren’t designed to replace private travel health insurance for overseas travel, but support it.
You will need to provide local authorities with:
- your Australian passport, or another valid passport, which shows you are a permanent Australian resident
- a valid Medicare card – if you do not have a valid Medicare card, or your card will expire while you are away, visit a service centre before you travel overseas for a new card
Medicine is not usually subsidised under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreements for Australian residents travelling overseas. If you are planning to travel overseas with PBS medicine for you or someone travelling with you, it is important you:
- talk to your doctor and discuss the medicine you need to take with you
- contact the embassy of the country you are visiting to make sure the medicine is legal there
- take a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you will be taking, and stating that it is for your personal use
- leave the medicine in its original packaging so it is clearly labelled with your name and dosage instructions, or that of the person travelling with you.
The countries with a reciprocal agreement and your entitlements
- hospital, medical, pharmaceutical, some allied services and ambulance (costs may apply)
- Medical treatment by general practitioners, and by specialists and some dental and allied health services such as physiotherapy if you’re referred by a doctor. You’ll need to pay between 25-40 per cent of the cost.
You’ll need to pay for the treatment or service and take the receipt and your Medicare card to any health insurance fund for reimbursement. A list can be found at www.inami.fgov.be
- limited subsidised health care
- A small fee is charged for all treatments.
- Free services for children aged 15 years and under.
- Necessary out-patient medical treatment as well as nursing care from health centres.
- Dental care available in some centres.
- Treatment at any out-patient department of a hospital, either by visiting it directly or with an admission note from a doctor.
- A refund after treatment if you visit a private doctor or dentist and pay the fee first. Refunds are available from a local insurance office listed in the telephone book under KELA-paikallistoimisto(t).
- Prescription medicine costs from pharmacies (Apteekki) and travel costs incurred in seeking medical treatment may be payable. A local insurance office will confirm payments required.
- Refunded costs for dental care if you were born in 1956 or later.
- Subsidised health care for a period of up to six months from your date of arrival.
- Treatment as a hospital patient in public and authorised hospitals only.
- Immediately necessary dental treatment at public hospitals.
- Subsidised health care for up to six months from your date of arrival.
- Medical attention at a health centre provided by a doctor in government service.
- Nursing care (such as injections or dressings) provided by a nurse in government service on the advice of a doctor.
- In-patient care including operations, medicine, nursing care, accommodation and meals.
- Hospital out-patient consultations provided by specialists in government service.
- Ambulance travel from site to hospital in the case of accidents and emergencies.
- Immediately necessary dental care provided in a government hospital.
- Free access to the public health care system for up to 12 months.
- Third class accommodation in hospitals.
- The cost of medicine is refunded if prescribed by a doctor – a certificate of eligibility is required by the pharmacy (apotheek).
You will need a certificate of eligibility. You can get this before leaving Australia, or when you arrive in the Netherlands, by forwarding the following documents to the health care insurer address shown below.
Groep Buitenlands Recht
7300 AR Apeldoorn Netherlands
- Limited subsidised health care when you visit New Zealand.
- In-patient treatment and accommodation at a public hospital during your stay.
For prescription medicine you will be charged the same rate as non-concession cardholders.
- Subsidised health care during your stay. You do not need to enrol in the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) in Norway.
- Medical treatment from a NIS general practitioner or out-patient department.
- Specialist services when referred by a general practitioner.
- Hospital in-patient treatment.
- Ambulance travel.
- Emergency dental treatment.
- Ancillary care when prescribed by a doctor.
- Prescription medicine – full price until approximately $250 is spent in one year. It is free thereafter. You must keep track of all expenditure.
Republic of Ireland
- Hospital treatment during your stay, but not for private medical services or prescription medicine.
You will have to pay the full cost of visits to private doctors.
- Essential medical treatment during your stay.
- Benefits for hospital, medical, pharmaceutical, dental and ambulance services.
- Ambulance travel is free if referred by a doctor in an emergency, otherwise you will need to pay 90% of the cost
- Reimbursement of prescription medicines is determined by the category of the medicine – positive, interim or negative. Patient co-payments are 30% of the price for positive and 90% for interim
- Benefits for medical, hospital and some ancillary services during your stay. Varying charges apply for all services.
- Medical treatment by any doctor or out-patient department of a hospital.
- A visit to a private doctor who is affiliated with the Social Security Scheme will cost slightly more.
- Subsidised health care during your stay. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom covers England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. You do not need to enrol in the NHS.
- Medical treatment and other services normally provided by a doctor to NHS patients.
- In-patient treatment including medicine, nursing care and accommodation in a public ward of a NHS hospital.
- Out-patient treatment in a NHS hospital.
- NHS prescription medicine where the doctor treats you as a NHS patient (a small fee is charged).
- Ambulance travel to and from or between NHS hospitals and other facilities operating under the NHS Scheme.
For more information on Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, call the Travelling with PBS medicine enquiry line on 1800 500 147, or call the Department of Human Services general enquiry line on 132 290.
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