Activating medical insurance in Australia is certainly a good idea. In fact, while you are a temporary visa holder, not all the rights to use the full Australian public health system are guaranteed, and furthermore, health in Australia is not entirely public. The costs for medical intervention for the consequences of what might have been a simple accident (a fractured wrist, for example) can reach figures of several thousand dollars. So, it is better to protect yourself from doubly unfortunate events and resolve the issue of health insurance in Australia in the first phase of your stay in Australia.
So, let’s start with Medicare, the national health program, the same one the Australian citizens use. Thanks to bilateral agreements between Italy and Australia, any citizen who is allowed into Australia has the right to activate Medicare for six months from arrival (three months for the tourist visas).
Once you have activated it and received your card, you are covered, to quote the official site, for most surgical operations and therapeutic treatments administered by doctors”. Here is the official page explaining in detail what is covered by the program: https://www.privatehealth.gov.au/health_insurance/what_is_covered/medicare.htm. It is important to understand what is never covered, that is, ambulance (but at a very small cost, it is possible to get an annual policy), dentists, physiotherapists and opticians.
Having the iconic Medicare Card in most cases means you do not have to pay in advance for a service that is covered, what is referred to as ‘bulk billing’ and there are search engines for finding participating clinics, like this one: https://healthengine.com.au/appointments/bulk-billing-gp/Australia/NextAvailable. If you happen to find yourself in a clinic which does not ‘bulk bill’, you will need to pay the fee and apply for the reimbursement via a form called a ‘claim’, that is, a ‘reimbursement’. To make a claim with Medicare, you must first have created a MyGov account and linked it to ‘Medicare Services’. Alternatively, simply download the app, Express Plus Medicare:
Here is also an official ‘step-by-step’ guide on how to claim a reimbursement: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/online-help/medicare/submit-medicare-claim-using-your-online-account.
To ask for cover (which is only possible once you are in Australia, not prior), look for your closest Medicare Centre (https://findus.humanservices.gov.au ) and then visit the Medicare Centre with:
– Copy of your visa
– Health care card
– plane tickets that prove that you are a new arrival
At this point, the border closures due to Covid have meant Medicare can be extended beyond six months without having to exit and re-enter the country. Normally, however, after six months, you have to pass through customs again before being able to reactivate the health cover. It can often be expensive to leave and enter the country because in high season even a cheap international flight could easily cost as much as $400. One solution lies with private insurance, which varies, however, according to your visa. Working Holiday Visa holders can activate a Short Stay Visitors with BUPA, for $52 a month, which also includes ambulance and medicines. Allianz also offers a similar program.