You've done the difficult part and have secured permanent residency in Australia. Now all you have to do is figure out all the other benefits and responsibilities that come along with it – taxes, employment and, of course, healthcare.
As a permanent resident, you have access to the same health benefits and services that Australian citizens do. While Australia's medical services are top-quality, they aren't cheap and private health insurance could help you keep costs to a minimum.
What is private health insurance?
Private health insurance is a system where you subscribe to a private company that provides you with rebates known as benefits for particular medical costs. In general, private health insurance exists in two forms: hospital insurance and extras insurance.
Hospital insurance covers in-hospital treatment by a doctor in a private hospital. It can also help pay for associated costs like accommodation, ambulance transport and prostheses. Usually, private insurance will let you choose your doctor and give you a private room to stay in while receiving treatment.
Extras insurance helps cover non-medical health services, including things like optical, physiotherapy and dental.
These policies from Finder partners all offer great value for money if you're looking for a hospital + extras health insurance policy. All results and prices are based on a single person living in NSW.
Do permanent residents need private health insurance in Australia?
As with Australian citizens, private health insurance isn't mandatory for permanent residents. Australia also has a public healthcare system called Medicare which can help you afford basic or necessary medical services. However, if you can afford it, you can derive the same benefits from private health insurance as anyone else, including:
- Avoiding payment of the Medicare surcharge levy and reduced tax expenses
- Wider cover for treatments that aren't included under the public healthcare system, such as chiropractic treatment
- Reduced waiting periods for specialist procedures and treatments compared to the public system
- If you're under 31, you won't have to pay age loading expenses if you choose to take out health insurance later in life
How does Medicare work?
Medicare is the name of Australia's national public healthcare system. Under Medicare, you have access to free treatment at public hospitals as well as reduced costs when using a wide range of non-critical health services, like visiting a GP or having a routine eye examination by an optometrist.
Medicare also exists in the form of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which regulates the price of certain prescription medications that may otherwise be unaffordably expensive. In many cases, the PBS may reduce a drug that costs hundreds of dollars to less than 50 for someone who has had it prescribed for them.
As an overseas visitor up to this point, it's likely you'll have some form of Overseas Health Cover (OVHC) to save you from outrageous medical expenses while working in or visiting Australia. When you're a permanent resident, though, your healthcare benefits and entitlements change and it's likely that OVHC will either no longer apply or not be the best choice for you.
Once you have your residency, it's a great time to switch from overseas visitor cover to domestic health insurance. The good news is you'll also have a lot more choice.
As a permanent resident, you will automatically qualify for the public health system under Medicare. But, as mentioned above it might still be a smart idea to invest in private health insurance too.
Compare your health insurance options
Simply select your details below to compare your options from over 30 Australian health funds online.
Ask an Expert