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Close up image of medicare card

Close up image of medicare card
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What is Medicare?

2 min read

Medicare is the scheme that gives Australian residents access to healthcare. Most taxpayers pay a Medicare Levy of 2% of their taxable income to help fund it.

Medicare gives you access to:

  • free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists, dentists and other allied health practitioners (in special circumstances only)
  • free treatment and accommodation as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital
  • 75% of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital (not including hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines).

Are you a carer or helping someone out?

Carers are everyday people who provide unpaid and ongoing care and support to someone they know who has a disability, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependency, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail.

Support for carers

Find practical information and useful resources for carers on Carer Gateway. You can also learn more about carers' support and services in your state or territory through Carers Australia.

Who's eligible?

You are eligible for Medicare benefits if you:

  • are an Australian or New Zealand citizen
  • are an Australian permanent resident
  • have applied for permanent residency (some conditions apply)
  • are covered by a Ministerial Order
  • have a Resident Return visa
  • are covered by a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with another country

Medicare cards are issued to people enrolled in Medicare. You can find registration information at the front of the Medicare enrolment form at the Department of Human Services. If you are aged 15 years or older, you can apply for your own Medicare card, while children under 15 can be listed on their parents' card. Babies born in Australia are automatically enrolled in Medicare.

When to use the Medicare card

You use your Medicare card when:

  • making a Medicare claim for a paid or unpaid doctor's account
  • visiting a doctor who bulk bills
  • receiving treatment as a public patient in a public hospital
  • filling a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription at a pharmacy

The benefits (refunds) you receive from Medicare are based on a schedule of fees set by the Australian Government, although doctors can choose to charge more than the set schedule fee. Medicare usually pays:

  • the full schedule fee for general practitioner services
  • 85% of the schedule fee for a specialist
  • 75% of the schedule fee for in-hospital services

Last reviewed: January 2018

Need more information?

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Read more on Medicare website

Medicare Services for Indigenous Australians

There are Medicare benefits, payments and services available to all Australians to help with the cost of health care services and prescription medicines.There are also services dedicated to improving access to Medicare services if youre an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person.

Read more on Medicare website

Indigenous Access Program

Improves the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians through better access to Medicare services.

Read more on Medicare website

Updating your personal details on a Medicare Card

Changes to your Medicare card details must be done in person at your local Medicare Service Centre.

Read more on Medicare website

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Read more on Medicare website

Medicare during pregnancy

Medicare is a health insurance scheme funded by the Australian government. Find out what is covered by Medicare during pregnancy and your out-of-pocket costs.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Medicare Two-way

An Australian Government initiative designed to make lodging health claims easier for people with private health insurance.

Read more on Medicare website

Telehealth: Specialist video consultations under Medicare

People in telehealth eligible areas of Australia have access to specialist video consultations under Medicare. This provides many patients with easier access to specialists, without the time and expense involved in travelling to major cities.

Read more on Department of Health website

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Medicare items supporting early diagnosis and treatment.

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Better access to mental health care: fact sheet for patients

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