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Australia Health Insurance


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Bordered by the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, the world’s largest island is also the world’s smallest continent. The Commonwealth of Australia, with its long sandy beaches, breathtaking forests and modern urban cities, is the 6th largest country on the planet and home to over 22 million people. Despite its vast land mass, more than 80percent of the population lives within 100 kilometers of its beautiful coastline, where one can find some of the cleanest waters in the world. Tourism, both domestic and international is also important to Australia’s economy, contributing to around 2.5percent of the country’s GDP. Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and Uluru (Ayres Rock) are the most popular destinations for visitors. All together Australia is one of the driest continents on the planet with an average total rainfall of less than 600 millimeters per year. Climate is diverse however; to the north, it is sub-tropical, with the northern states experiencing warm weather year round, whereas the southern states experience cooler winters. Australia is made up of six states and two territories, the smallest of which is home to Canberra, the nation’s purpose-built capital, with its major roads following a wheel-and-spoke pattern as well as circles, hexagons and triangles being incorporated into the city’s design. Canberra is known as the ‘bush capital’ with its significant areas of natural vegetation.

Australia Health Care and Insurance

Australia’s health system ranks well internationally, with primary, secondary and tertiary care provided through both the public and private sectors. The system is administered at three levels, Commonwealth, state and local government, and financed through general revenue, tax levies and co-payments by users. All Australian residents are eligible for Medicare, a universal health insurance program that provides funding for public facilities. Medicare covers both inpatient and outpatient services in public hospitals, and subsidizes the cost of treatment in a number of private health facilities. In addition to Medicare, a Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme offers subsidized prescription drugs for all residents. A large private Australian health insurance sector operates in parallel to Medicare, with approximately 44.6 percent of the population arranging cover for hospital services through a private plan, and around 51.3percent with private cover for general treatment. The government encourages private health insurance, offering policy-holders rebates ranging from 30percent to 45percent depending on the age of those covered and registered on the Medicare program. An additional levy is imposed on high-income earners that don’t hold private health insurance, in order to encourage them to use private facilities rather than the strained public health system.

The rate of hospital admissions in Australia are above the OECD average and substantially higher than comparable countries such as New Zealand, Canada and the United States, placing constant pressure on health professionals and strain on resources. Approximately 1 in every 3 people attending an emergency department is estimated to wait beyond the recommended waiting time for treatment. Australia’s Productivity Commission has estimated that inefficiency and waste could be responsible for some public hospitals running up to 20 percentless effectively than stated best practice. The Department of Health and Aging reports that Australia’s ageing populace and projected population growth will constrain the health workforce while increasing patient demand, health care needs and expenditure, with an expansion of services required along with investment in infrastructure. Chronic disease is also of increasing burden to the system, and workforce shortages are reportedly already limiting the delivery of services, particularly in rural and regional Australia, where some people struggle to access primary healthcare. A number of programs have been set up to address the uneven distribution of medical personnel including outreach programs and telemedicine. Care in remote areas is provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The system has also been criticized for an insufficient focus on primary care, its allocation of resources due to the funding structure, the increasing cost of services, and the need to navigate an overly complex system. Despite this, the standard of health of Australians is relatively high and reflected in health outcomes such as infant mortality rates which currently sit at 4.55 deaths per 1,000 live births as well as life expectancy rates among the highest in the world at 79.48 years for males and 84.45 years for females (CIA, 2012). Health outcomes among Aboriginals and Torres Island Strait Islander populations however are much lower, with infant mortality approximately twice that of non-indigenous groups, and life expectancy around 17 years lower.

A number of countries have reciprocal agreements with Australia including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, and the Netherlands, which entitle short-term visitors from these countries access to medically necessary services. Care however does not cover any pre-existing conditions, or any condition not considered an emergency. Travel advisories recommend all visitors to Australia purchase comprehensive medical insurance which also includes a provision for air evacuation. Reported cases of medically necessary repatriation to the United Kingdom have cost in excess of £100,000.

Australia travel   Australia's medical insurance industry is a fast paced ever evolving market however our staff are experts and at your disposal.

Expatriates and Travelers in Australia

Australia Health Insurance Concerns

Australia’s 25,760 kilometers of coastline is a draw-card for Australian nationals and visitors alike, with numerous water-related activities available and over 300 days of sunshine a year on the east coast providing the right conditions for swimming, surfing and sunbathing. Those unfamiliar with local beaches should ensure they are aware of areas prone to strong rip currents, which can take the most experienced swimmers out to sea Strong rip currents are responsible for over 15,000 rescues and 20 deaths each year. Visitors should also ensure they adhere to all water-safety signage, never swim alone, and stay within supervised swimming areas, which are partitioned with yellow and red flags. The risk of a shark attack in Australia is no greater that in other countries with large coastlines, however advice from life guards should prevail and always be followed to minimize any potential risk.

Australia is home to a number of poisonous snakes and spiders, which are commonly seen in domesticated areas. In the event expatriates or visitors are bitten, medical assistance should be sought without delay. Wearing protective clothing will minimize the risk of a snake bite when walking in the bush, however if a bite does occur, pressure should be applied to the area and the limb immobilized so as to prevent the spread of venom throughout the body. Expatriates and visitors are advised to ensure all routine vaccinations are up-to-date prior to arrival in Australia and for those planning on visiting the far north and Torres Strait, to receive a Japanese encephalitis vaccination. There are a number of communicable diseases in Australia for which no pre-exposure vaccinations are available. These include Murray Valley encephalitis, Ross River fever and Baramah Forest virus. Preventable measures can be taken to decrease the risk of contraction. A visit to a health care professional to discuss the risks associated with travel to specific areas is recommended. It is also prudent to arrange international medical insurance to ensure access to private medical facilities and to cover any expenses for medical evacuation from remote areas, should the need arise.

Heat exhaustion is common, particularly so in northern Australia due to its year-round hot weather. Visitors are reminded to carry sufficient water on all trips in order to stay hydrated and to increase the salt in their diet until they become acclimatized to the heat. Extreme weather patterns can pose issues in the country, which is susceptible to weather-related natural disasters. In 2011 there was extensive flooding throughout the country as a result of heavy rainfall, with Queensland suffering the most severe damage on the east coast. Around 200,000 people were impacted and a number of deaths recorded in the state. Throughout the summer months, the risk of bushfires is high in some areas. In 2009, 173 people were killed and up to 500 injured by the most serious bushfires to ever hit the state of Victoria, destroying nearly 2000 homes. Visitors to Australia are advised to remain up-to-date with local developments through media sources and follow any advice given by the State authorities.

Australia Expat Health Insurance

A well-equipped and modern health care service, offering a high standard of care can be found in Australia. Physicians are well-trained and in abundance in urban areas, however shortages of personnel occur in rural areas. Around 51 percent of the population has some form of private health insurance to cover shortfalls in medical benefits and to ensure reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses. In the case of a serious injury or illness, medical evacuation may be necessary from rural areas or remote tourist spots. Any repatriation from the country could also prove extremely expensive given Australia’s southern location. International Medical Insurance can provide a free quotation to cover all your medical needs in Australia, including emergency medical evacuation, doctors’ fees and specialist consultations. Call one of our experienced advisors today.