Many people would assume that a quick trip between two Australian ports would not require a travel insurance policy, especially when being treated by the onboard doctor.
Indeed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel website assures its visitors that Medicare benefits are payable for people ''travelling between two Australian ports''.
However, there are some conditions that could revoke your right to claim Medicare benefits when treated on an Australian cruise ship, as 64-year-old Sandra Barrett recently found out.
When Ms Barrett travelled on an overnight cruise from Sydney to Melbourne last year, she received a 20-minute treatment for heat exhaustion from the onboard doctor. What she didn't expect was the $1,700 medical bill that landed on her doorstop once she returned to land.
"I had no idea that if you get sick on a cruise in Australia then you could be up for a massive medical bill," Ms Barrett told the Sydney Morning Herald on March 23.
The doctor employed on the cruise ship in question was not a registered Medicare provider, did not hold a provider number and thus patients were not eligible for Medicare benefits.
"There has never been an expectation that only Australian doctors with Medicare provider numbers would be employed on cruises between Australian ports," a spokesperson from the cruise ship company explained.
This is important knowledge for anyone planning to take a cruise in Australian waters, as many individuals risk needing medical treatment while uninsured.
It is therefore crucial for cruise ship passengers to take out travel insurance regardless of the proximity of the ports. Alternatively, a private health insurance product could help protect individuals from the financial burden of becoming ill on Australian waters.
For more information on travel insurance or private health cover, contact the team at HICA today. HICA can offer expert advice and guidance on the right insurance products for your health care needs.