What is the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement and what does it cover?
The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) is an agreement that allows Australians (in certain countries) can walk on into a hospital and be covered by their version of Medicare. What this means is that you'll receive the same level of cover you would if you needed treatment here at home. What this doesn't mean is that you should travel without travel insurance.
Do I need travel insurance If I'm going to a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?
Even if you're travelling to a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, it's advisable to make sure you have an appropriate level of travel insurance when travelling overseas as it's likely the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement won't cover all medical costs in these countries. It's a nice safety-net to have BUT it's not as comprehensive as having travel insurance.
What is covered by the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?
The RHCA was designed to provide subsidised health services for essential medical treatment but not to replace private travel health insurance for overseas travel. It allows Australians visiting these countries to gain access to subsidised health services for essential medical treatment. The RCHA was NOT designed to take the place of private travel insurance. It also does not provide cover for those who have travelled overseas for the specific purpose of receiving medical treatment.
What isn't covered by the RCHA?
The following are just some of the things not covered by the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement:
- Ambulance cover
- Dental care
- Elective treatment
- Medical evacuation to your home country
- Para Medical Services
- Treatment and accommodation in private hospitals, or as a private patient in a public hospital
- Treatment that has been pre-arranged before arrival in Australia
- Treatment that is not immediately necessary.
What countries does Australia have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with?
The cover provided through the RCHA varies from country to country. and there are 11 countries with which Australia Reciprocal Health Care Agreement in place:
|Country||Reciprocal Health Care Agreement Cover|
6. New Zealand
8. Republic of Ireland
11. United Kingdom
Question: Who pays for it? The RHCA is publicly funded and your treatment is paid for by the government of the participating country you are in
How does it work?
The RHCA enables residents of participating countries to receive Medicare benefits when visiting or working in Australia and vice versa when Australians are visiting participating nations. However, the level of cover these non-residents receive when in Australia varies depending on the country they are coming from, much in the same way the level of cover provided to Australians varied from country to county in the section above.
If you are coming to Australia, you need to enrol for Medicare. This can be done at a Department of Human Services Service Centre. Once you have enrolled, you will be eligible to receive treatment under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.
But how do I enrol?
To enrol in Medicare the following is needed:
- Valid visa
- Proof you're enrolled in your country’s national health scheme (though not always required)
Once you're enrolled and approved, your Australian reciprocal health care card will be sent to you in the mail.
What does a Medicare card entitle me to?
Your Medicare card can be used to get free or subsidised medical treatment when you see a doctor. You can use your Medicare card:
- Making a claim for a doctor's bill
- Subsidised PBS prescriptions.
I'm heading overseas, how do I prove that I am from a RHCA country?
Australian heading overseas need to be able to prove they are eligible for health care, which can be done by providing the relevant parties with :
- Your Australian passport
- Your Medicare card.
Don't go anywhere without travel insurance
As you can see, while the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement does provide medical protection for Australians abroad, the cover is limited. This is why travel insurance is so important. Not only does travel insurance entitle you to a higher level of medical cover, it also covers things like medical evacuation, cancellation, luggage and more. Compare your cover options today and make sure that you're protected next time you head overseas.
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