Medicare is a government health fund that takes care of all citizens or permanent residents of Australia. The medicare system was introduced to Australia in 1984 and is currently considered to be amongst the worlds best health care systems.
Medicare is funded through taxation that all working Australians pay and is based on a percentage of their salaries. If you are a working Australian then you are paying towards the medicare fund which means you will be covered in the event of needing to see a general practitioner or if you need to be admitted into a public hospital. When you enroll for medicare then you will be issued with a medicare card that has a unique number on it which you will need to produce when seeking treatment from a doctor or public hospital.
Medicare covers individuals for visits to their local general practitioner but depending on the doctor used you may have to pay a gap if the doctor charges more. Medicare will also cover any visits or admittance to a public hospital. You will be completely covered if you need to be admitted into a public hospital and you will also be covered in the event of any aftercare needed after your released. Medicare will also cover you if you need an eye test done by an optometrist. Surgical and therapeutic procedure will also be covered in the event you need any of these services. If you choose to be a private patient at a private hospital then medicare will pay 75% of the doctor’s fee but will not cover any other hospital expenses such as your stay in a private hospital. If you are there for any extended period of time then this can run into thousands of dollars. If you have private hospital cover then they will cover the other 25% of the doctor’s fee and cover your stay in a private hospital.
There are many things that medicare doesn't cover and if you want cover you will need to take out private health insurance. Medicare won't cover private hospital theatre fees or accommodation. Glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and the cost of prosthesis is also not covered by medicare. Medicare will also not cover you for any medice that is prescribed to you by your local general practitioner.
If your doctor bulk bills then you will not be charged a fee to visit your local doctor as they will bill medicare directly. You will be required to sign a form that the doctors surgery will send to medicare and you will be given a copy. If your doctor does charge you a fee then it's possible to pay that fee and claim the medicare rebate back from your nearest medicare office. Medicare also has a safety net that applies to people who have an ongoing condition that requires regular doctor visits and tests.
In Australia today there are approximately 21 million people registered with medicare. The Australian government has recently made a push for working Australians to take out their own private health insurance by giving a 30% rebate on fees charged by a registered private health care company. With more people taking up this option it is relieving the pressure on the medicare system which currently has extremely long waiting lists for elective surgery.
If you have any questions relating to medicare you can contact Medicare's call centre or log onto their web site to view further information that affects you.