Social security agreement
Australia and Finland have a social security agreement that covers medically necessary treatment. When a person resident in Finland temporarily stays in Australia, they can obtain necessary medical care for an illness either without charge or at the co-payment price. An exception to this are persons staying in Australia on a student visa, who are required to take out health insurance in order to obtain their visa.
Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay.
Social security agreement does not apply to the overseas territories of Australia: Cocos Islands or Christmas Island.
You can obtain medical care services by presenting a Finnish passport and a Kela card.
Healthcare and medical care
In Australia, health insurance is the responsibility of Medicare offices under the Department of Human Services. You can ask them how healthcare services are made available. You can find the contact information of Medicare offices on the website of the Department of Human Services. You can also obtain a Medicare card, which you will need when you seek treatment, from one of the offices.
When you apply for the card, present your passport, visa/residence permit and your Kela card. If the card is granted, it will be sent to you by mail. If the length of your stay in Australia is only of a short duration, you may not receive a card. In this case, the Medicare office will advise you on how to proceed.
At Health Direct website, you can find information about health services in Australia or search for service providers.
You can seek treatment from a general practitioner either at a community health centre or at a private physician´s office.
The doctor will invoice you for treatment in various ways. Usually, the doctor will ask to see your Medicare card. Medicare will then reimburse the cost of your treatment directly to the doctor and you will not need to pay anything. Appointments with certain specialists in the public sector are fee too.
It is possible that the doctor will give you an invoice. The treatment will not be fully reimbursed in this case; instead the patient will be charged a co-payment. Medicare generally reimburses 75 per cent of a private doctor´s fee.
You can pay the invoice yourself and apply for partial reimbursement on the basis of receipts from a Medicare office. In some cases, once you have paid your invoice, the doctor´s office can send an application for reimbursement to Medicare electronically, which means that you receive the amount in your bank account later on. Alternatively, you can take the unpaid invoice to a Medicare office. You receive a cheque from the office made out to your doctor which covers some of your treatment costs. You have to take the cheque to your doctor and pay him or her the co-payment as well.
As a rule, the costs of dental care are not reimbursed, except for certain treatments covered by the Chronic Disease Management programme. The costs of supplementary medical care services, such as physiotherapy or the services of a psychologist are not, as a general rule, reimbursed.
You pay the costs of patient transport yourself.
You can receive partial reimbursement for the cost of medicines when your doctor prescribes them in accordance with the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. In that case, you will pay a co-payment fee for your medicines.
Present your passport or Medicare card at the hospital´s reception desk. In this way, treatment as a public patient on a day or inpatient ward in a public hospital is free.
Be aware that in Australia, private patients, too, can be treated in the facilities of public hospitals.
If you wish to receive treatment as a private patient in a public or a private hospital, you can be reimbursed for 75 per cent of the cost of a doctor´s treatments or examinations for which Medicare has specified a fee. Other expenses and fees you pay yourself or through your private health insurance.