Australia is a land of opportunity for people looking at moving to the country for work. Not only is the land down under largely welcoming of immigration, but a study by Roy Morgan Research showed that real unemployment in June was down for the fourth consecutive month across the country.
With a healthy employment landscape and plenty of opportunities, moving to Australia is an easy decision for some – as does visiting for a holiday or a longer excursion. And yet, it does come with considerations that need to be made.
For instance, those on a 457-class visa require accompanying 457 health insurance before they are allowed in the country. Many countries also have a reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA) with Australia, meaning visitors have an extra level of security in case of emergency situations.
What is a reciprocal health care agreement?
An RHCA is a joint policy between two countries to provide a selection of essential medical treatment to each others' citizens. As such, an RHCA is designed to help two main groups of people:
- Australians travelling to a country with an RHCA with Australia
- Citizens of certain countries visiting Australia
Australians visiting a country with an RHCA typically need to show a passport and Medicare card to the local health authority in the country they're visiting. However, it's important to check other requirements, too, depending on the rules of that particular country's agreement.
Overseas citizens visiting Australia may also need to show proof they are enrolled in their country's national health scheme (where applicable).
Which countries have a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia?
The Australian government has an RHCA with New Zealand, the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Malta and Slovenia.
Citizens of these countries have access to some essential medical services while in Australia; and similarly, Australian residents have some medical benefits when abroad.
Some important notes are that only workers and not students from Finland, Norway, Republic of Ireland and Malta are covered by an RHCA with Australia. Meanwhile, 405 and 410 visa holders are usually not covered, except in exceptional circumstances.
Finally, the agreement is not a replacement for travel or private health insurance. Australians planning to work abroad should also consider an appropriate expatriate health insurance cover to protect them and their family overseas.
What health care services are available?
In Australia, public health care services are either provided free of charge (such as in emergency hospital care situations) or are made more affordable under an RHCA.
Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical benefits scheme ensures visitors from countries with an RHCA receive subsidised medicine for their illnesses or injuries – and Australians can often expect the same when visiting partner countries.
However, for private health care benefits, those coming to Australian shores for work will need health insurance, as private care is not part of a reciprocal agreement.
If you're planning on working in Australia, contact HICA on our overseas number (+61 3 9439 9888) to arrange everything before you arrive, or contact us online.
Similarly, Australian residents can look into their health insurance needs by calling us on 1300 44 22 01, or sending a message via or website.