What is Medicare Australia ?

Medicare (in Australia) refers to a publicly-funded universal health care insurance program operated by Services Australia, an Australian Federal Government agency. . Medicare is the main method for Australian citizens and residents to access health care in the country. The program can partially or fully cover the cost of many primary health care services via public and private health care systems. Expats and international visitors from eleven different countries have subsidised access to necessary medical treatment via Medicare under reciprocal agreements. Essentially, Medicare is the main health care program that all Australian citiizens and permanent residents have access to.

In addition to basic and preventative care, Medicare also covers psychology, psychiatry, ophthalmology, physiotherapy and audiology. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover dental services. The complete list of covered services can be found in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (also known as MBS). The program is mostly funded by an income tax surcharge called the Medicare levy, which is about 2% of a taxpayer’s taxable income. Those with particularly low income are exempt from the Medicare levy.

Medicare is the newest re-envisioning of the original 1975 scheme called Medibank that was limited by the Fraser Government in 1976 to only those who paid for it as customers. When the Hawke Government reinstated universal health coverage in 1984, the program was then called Medicare.

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