Healthcare in Australia
By: Ted Beust | Our Voice Contributor
It’s been a while since our last installment of Healthcare Around the World. But now, let’s dive deep into Australia’s healthcare system!
Australia’s healthcare system, like the United States and Canada, is called Medicare. Crikey, somebody needs a thesaurus! Australia’s Medicare is the only continental healthcare system in the world. Australia funds their Medicare system by, you guessed it, taxes. This seems to be a trend, no?
Medicare provides services only for permanent residents, citizens, and those with temporary visas. If you’re a student, Australia has a program for you. Even people seeking asylum can get care. In fact, people in New Zealand can get coverage from Australian Medicare if they choose to do so.
Those who qualify for coverage are given a Medicare card. Anyone above the age of 15 can have their own Medicare card, while those under the age of 15 are covered under their parent’s card. This scenario is similar to the Affordable Care Act provision in the United States where you’re allowed to be on your parent’s health insurance until the age of 26.
Medicare, in public hospitals, provides free access to almost all services whilst in a public hospital. It covers surgeries, tests and screenings, x-rays, most eye care and almost all General Practitioner visits. A GP visit is free if your doctor bulk bills, otherwise your TAXES will pay for most of it.
Despite the comprehensive coverage Medicare provides, there are certain things Aussie Medicare doesn’t cover at all. Ambulance rides for instance are perhaps the most important. The average cost for an ambulance is around $1000.
Prescription drugs in Australia are relatively cheap! The average co-pay for prescription drugs ranges from $6.50 to $40.30 under a Prescription Benefits scheme.
The main incentive for Australians acquiring private health insurance is the issue of wait times. If you’re under the age of 31 and get private insurance, your insurance premiums will go down 2% each year for as long as you live. However, if you decide to get private insurance after the age of 31, it goes up 2% per year for as long as you live! Cue the sinister background music…
To sum it all up, Australia’s healthcare system is pretty neat. The actual Medicare service is pretty handy for healthcare costs. And since most gigantic governmental financial burdens have their kinks and flaws, the supplemental private insurance is a good assistant for the average Aussie’s healthcare plan.