Social security agreement
Australia and Finland have a social security agreement that covers medically necessary treatment. When a person resident in Finland temporarily stays in Australia, they can obtain necessary medical care either without charge or at the co-payment price. An exception to this are persons staying in Australia on a student visa. They are required to take out health insurance in order to obtain their visa.
Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay.
Social security agreement does not apply to the overseas territories of Australia i.e. Cocos Islands or Christmas Island.
You can obtain medical care services by presenting a Finnish passport and a Kela card.
Healthcare and medical care
In Australia, health insurance is the responsibility of Medicare offices under the Department of Human Services. You can ask them how healthcare services are made available. You can find the contact information of Medicare offices on the Department of Human Services website, listed by area. You can also obtain a Medicare card, which you will need when you seek treatment, from one of the offices. You can find more information about Medicare here.
When you apply for the card, present your passport, visa/residence permit and your Kela card. If the card is granted, it will be sent to you by mail. If the length of your stay in Australia is only of a short duration, you may not receive a card. In this case, the Medicare office will advise you on how to proceed.
Health Direct-website has more information about health services in Australia. The website also has a search tool you can use to find service providers.
You can seek treatment from a general practitioner either at a community health centre or at a private physician’s office.
Invoicing for your treatment can happen in various ways. You can be asked to show your Medicare card, and Medicare will reimburse the cost of your treatment directly to the doctor and you will not need to pay anything. It is however possible that you will get reimbursement retrospectively from Medicare after you have paid the invoice and submitted application to Medicare. It is recommended that you find out beforehand how the doctor treating you invoices for the treatment. You can find more information on invoicing on Health Direct website.
If you need to pay a co-payment, you can pay the invoice yourself and apply for a reimbursement on the basis of receipts from a Medicare office. Sometimes, the doctor’s office can send an application for reimbursement to Medicare electronically once you have paid the invoice. In this case, you will subsequently receive the reimbursement in your bank account. Alternatively, you can take the unpaid invoice to a Medicare office. You receive a cheque from the office made out to your doctor which covers some of your treatment costs. You have to take the cheque to your doctor and pay him or her the co-payment as well.
As a general rule, dental care costs are non-reimbursable. The costs of supplementary medical care services such as physiotherapy or the services of a psychologist are also generally not reimbursed.
You pay the costs of patient transport yourself.
You can receive partial reimbursement for the cost of medicines when your doctor prescribes them in accordance with the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. In that case, you will pay a co-payment fee for your medicines.
Present your passport or Medicare card at the hospital´s reception desk. In this way, treatment as a public patient on a day or inpatient ward in a public hospital is free of charge for you.
Be aware that in Australia, private patients, too, can be treated in the facilities of public hospitals. Expenses for treatment in private hospitals you have to pay yourself or your health insurance will cover them.