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Reciprocal Health Care Agreement for Australians Overseas

Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) with 11 countries. This can offer Australians travelling overseas some free healthcare, but it doesn't replace travel insurance.

What you need to know

  • Reciprocal Health Care Agreements give Australians access to free medically necessary care in some countries.
  • There are 11 countries with Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with Australia.
  • The Australian government still recommends you take out travel insurance even if you are travelling to an RHCA country.

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 has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement in place:

1. Belgium

The agreement covers:

  • 50% of the of ambulance travel.
  • Partial reimbursement of hospital services
  • Medical treatment by general practitioners and by specialists
  • Some dental (75-60%)
  • Some allied health services eg. physiotherapy (75-60%)
  • Some reimbursement of pharmaceutical medicines.

2. Finland

The agreement covers:

  • Some dental
  • Outpatient medical treatment
  • Prescription medicine costs
  • Nursing and medical care from health centres
  • Some travel costs to get care
  • Limited subsidised health care.

3. Italy

The agreement covers:

  • Subsidised health care (max 6 months)
  • Urgent dental treatment at a public hospital
  • Medical treatment
  • Treatment in public hospitals.

4. Malta

The agreement covers:

  • Subsidised health care (max 6 months)
  • Ambulance travel
  • Hospital outpatient consultations provided by specialists in government service
  • Some emergency dental
  • Inpatient care
  • Medical attention at a health centre
  • Nursing care.

5. Netherlands

The agreement covers:

  • Ambulance or taxi travel partially refunded
  • Specialist care Nursing Paramedics Childbirth
  • Nursing
  • Paramedics
  • Childbirth Specialist care Nursing Paramedics Childbirth
  • Prescription medicine costs.

6. New Zealand

The agreement covers:

  • Limited subsidised health care (max 2 years)
  • Inpatient treatment.

7. Norway

The agreement covers:

  • Ambulance travel
  • Ancillary care
  • Emergency dental treatment
  • Hospital inpatient treatment
  • Medical treatment from an NIS general practitioner
  • Some prescription medication costs
  • Children 12 and under get free services
  • Free doctors visits and prescription medicines for children 16 and under
  • Free psychological care for children 18 and under
  • Birth care
  • No charge for hospital.

8. Republic of Ireland

The agreement covers:

  • Care as a public patient in a public hospital
  • Maternity care
  • Some prescription medicine costs.

9. Slovenia

The agreement covers:

  • Subsidised public health medical treatment
  • Subsidised medical treatment by private GP's
  • Ambulance travel with a doctor's referral
  • Reimbursement of prescription medications (30%).

10. Sweden

The agreement covers:

  • Medical treatment
  • Partial private doctor fees
  • Maternity services
  • Health care for children
  • Some prescription medicine cost
  • Maternity services Health care for children Some prescription medicine cost

11. United Kingdom

The agreement covers:

  • Medical treatment
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Some prescription medication costs
  • Ambulance.

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
  • Funerals
  • 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.

Do I need travel insurance If I'm going to an RHCA country?

Even if you're travelling to a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, the Australian government recommends that you take out some form of travel insurance. The RHCA may not cover all medical costs in these countries. It also won't cover you for other travel mishaps such as cancellations, lost luggage and personal liability.

Smartraveller says if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.

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