What is Medicare?
Medicare is run by the Australian Government and is funded by Australian tax payers. Medicare provides Australians with access to public healthcare and the ability to claim some medical expenses.
Who is covered by Medicare?
Medicare covers people residing in Australia who are Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens or holders of permanent visas. Some visitors and temporary residents, from countries with which Australia has made reciprocal healthcare agreements, are eligible for Medicare with some restrictions - visit the Medicare Australia website for more information.
What funds do I contribute to Medicare?
Australian taxpayers contribute a Medicare Levy of 1.5% of their taxable income. The Medicare Levy Surcharge is an additional 1% in tax that you may have to pay if your annual taxable income is above the Medicare Levy Surcharge thresholds and you do not have an appropriate level of private hospital cover.
What is covered by Medicare?
Benefits covered by Medicare include:
- A stay in a public hospital as a public patient.
- Part of the cost of pharmaceutical prescriptions, through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
- Part of the cost of GP and specialist consultants through the Medicare Benefits
- Part or whole consultation fees for doctors, including specialists.
- Part or the whole cost of tests and examinations by doctors needed to treat illnesses, including X-rays and pathology tests.
- Part or the whole cost of eye tests - undertaken by optometrists.
- Part or the whole cost of psychology services - you must be referred by your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician to receive the benefits.
What is not usually covered by Medicare?
Items not usually covered by Medicare include:
- Private patient hospital costs (for example, theatre fees or accommodation)
- Dental examinations and treatment
- Ambulance services
- Home nursing
- Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, eye therapy, chiropractic services, podiatry
- Psychology services (unless as part of an agreed procedure referred by your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician)
- Acupuncture (unless part of a doctor's consultation)
- Glasses and contact lenses
What is the Medicare Benefits Schedule?
The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is a list of medical procedures, consultations and tests that are recognised by Medicare for a benefit. Each item on the MBS has its own Schedule Fee. The MBS is set by the Commonwealth Government.