How do I get my Medicare card or join a private health fund?

Medicare is the government’s health program which provides free treatment in public hospitals and free or subsidised treatment by medical practitioners such as doctors, dentists and so on. Your contribution to the health care system comes from your tax.

medicareHowever, only those who have Australian or New Zealand citizenship, permanent visa or have applied for a permanent visa are eligible to apply for a Medicare card. Documents will need to be provided to prove your residency status in the country.

If you are eligible, you need to fill out an enrolment form from their website or the nearest Medicare office. You will need to bring with you the documents required in the forms.

The system provides benefits for consultation fees for doctors including specialists, tests and examinations, eye tests, some surgical procedures and so on. You will also not be charged for care and treatment or after-care when in public hospitals.

Find doctors with bulk billing services. This means that you cannot be charged a booking fee, administration fee, record keeping and so on because your doctor bills Medicare directly.

For private hospitals, Medicare will pay 75 per cent of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures provided by the doctor. You will, however, be charged for hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines. These costs can be covered by your private health insurance, if you have one.

It is worth getting a private health insurance especially since there are several things not covered by Medicare, such as physiotherapy, eye therapy, glasses, hearing aids, acupuncture, chiropractic services, and speech therapy.

Private health funds can be quite expensive depending on your type of account. There are basic coverage and there are premium ones, like any other service. It is up to you whether you can actually afford it and use it a lot. The up side of having a private health fund is that when the public system takes too long, which sometimes happens, you have the option of going for private health care. Some surgeries and even dental services have a long queue. Having a private health cover solves that problem.

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