How do I Register with a Doctor or Dentist as an Expat in Australia

How do I Register with a Doctor or Dentist as an Expat in Australia?

Australia is a country that is renowned for its exceptional healthcare system. So, for expats living in Australia, understanding the healthcare system of the land Down Under is essential.

Today, Australia is home to more than 130,000 doctors and medical specialists, with 18,383 working in the dental workforce as of 2020. And while their healthcare services are available for Australian citizens, permanent residents, expats, and tourists alike, expats must learn what type of medical care is right for them.

In this article, we take a closer look at how expats can seek a doctor or dentist in Australia.

Expat Guide: Getting Physical and Dental Help in Australia

The obvious choice among Australian citizens and residents for all their healthcare needs is Medicare. Medicare is Australia’s universal health care system that was established in February 1984. It ensures that Australian citizens and residents have assistance with health care costs and easy access to medical services. You can learn more about the medical services in Australia here.

Fortunately, this healthcare system is also available for expats in Australia under certain conditions.

So, suppose you are an expat and want to be able to avail the extensive network of doctors and medical practitioners and get treated in public hospitals through Medicare. In that case, your first goal is to become a permanent resident.

And you can do this by applying and getting approved for a permanent visa that will allow you to stay in Australia indefinitely. Once you have applied or have been granted your permanent visa, you can begin your application for Medicare.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • #1. Fill out the Medicare enrolment form.
  • #2. Send the form and the required supporting documents to MES@servicesaustralia.gov.au or the address indicated on the application form.
  • #3. After review, you will receive your Medicare number.

You just have to wait for your Medicare card, which will be mailed to you within four weeks.

Having your Medicare card will give you access to the following:

  • More affordable medicines at pharmacies courtesy of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • Receive care in public hospitals
  • Avail of medical services from Medicare-accredited doctors and medical practitioners.

As an expat and permanent resident, having Medicare thus gives you peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to register with a doctor to get medical assistance so long as you go to a public hospital.

However, Medicare does not cover dental health. Although in some states, it does provide limited services for children and other specified groups like Indigenous people.

Expat Options Aside From Medicare

If you are an expat in Australia holding a non-permanent visa, you may want to explore other healthcare services apart from Medicare. Take a look at the best options you can consider:

Private Insurance

Medicare is not always the move-forward plan for expats. Since one of the visa application requirements is health insurance that can cover any medical challenges while you are in Australia, paying for private health insurance can benefit you more. And the good news is that health insurance companies will also cover your dental costs with just a few additional monthly dollars.

Expats in Australia who hold a working visa are not eligible for Australian Medicare coverage. So, they must shoulder their healthcare costs and carry private health insurance. You can find more information on how to find affordable healthcare as an expat in Australia here.

Getting private health coverage is also more practical for expats, because it allows you to go to both public and private hospitals and be attended by a general doctor or specialist affiliated with the insurance company. You can then get treated immediately and process a reimbursement, whatever is more convenient at the consultation time.

And no additional registration is needed for this since you only need to schedule an appointment to see the doctor or have a consultation with any available doctor.

For dentist appointments, you can check with your insurance company about the exclusive coverage and services you can avail of. This can include routine dental treatments like fillings, tooth extraction, cleaning, and x-rays or primary dental services such as veneers, crowns, implants, and dentures.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA)

The Australian government has formed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, or RHCA, with several countries like Norway, Malta, Netherlands, Finland, the United Kingdom, Italy, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, and Belgium. This means that expats from any of these countries can have convenient access to Australian public hospitals.

So, expats covered by the RHCA can get treated by doctors and have the same benefits as Australian citizens and permanent residents. All you need to do is visit your public hospital and schedule an appointment with a doctor. However, dental treatment is not covered by this.

Finding a Doctor in Australia

Australia has a health service tool called Health Direct that you can use to find a doctor for your medical needs. You can also look up whether they do bulk billing and if your concern is covered as part of your Medicare or private insurance policy.

You can seek medical assistance through telehealth appointments if you cannot physically go to your doctor’s clinic or the hospital. Telephone appointments include consultations with a general practitioner, specialist, nurse practitioner, registered midwife, allied health professional, and obstetrician.

However, consulting with a public or private doctor is still best. If you don’t know what you need, you can first consult a GP and get a referral for a specialist.

Finding a Dentist in Australia

For expats looking for a dentist in Australia, it is best to check the Australian Dental Association website. You can search for dentists by location and even by name if you have any recommendations from family, friends, or colleagues.

Final Thoughts

Getting medical and dental help in Australia is fairly straightforward for expats. Having Medicare is an added advantage, but even those without Medicare can receive quality treatment from doctors and dentists regardless of their healthcare insurance.

It pays to invest in private insurance if you’re not planning to stay permanently in Australia. It will enable you to schedule an appointment anytime you need a doctor or dentist, get treated, and have your insurance cover it. Any out-of-the-pocket expenses are typically minimal. Overall, Australia has a competitive and efficient healthcare system that offers quality medical care to all its residents.