Medicare is an Australian government-owned health insurance scheme that covers payment of pre-arranged amounts for different medical services in the public health system. The level of Medicare cover you are eligible for will depend on whether you have a permanent or temporary visa.
The Australian Government has a reciprocal agreement that provides citizens of certain countries (currently the United Kingdom, Malta, Finland, Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Ireland) with restricted access to Medicare. If you are visiting Australia from these countries, you are generally covered for emergency treatment only in a public hospital.
To enrol for Medicare you will need to visit a Medicare office taking along your passport and other travel documents. You can find out more about the coverage offered to overseas citizens by visiting the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing website and following the links to overseas visitors, or by calling their 24 hour answering service on 02 6289 9853. To contact Medicare call 13 20 11 or visit the Medicare website.
There are also a number of private health insurers in Australia offering specific cover for those coming from overseas and providing cover for private hospitals and other services including dental insurance. The Department of Health and Ageing publishes a website listing these insurers. More information can also be found at the Australian Government Private Health website.