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Many Kiwis move to Australia without realising the full extent of what it means for them. There are limitations on access to free or subsidised medical care and this may affect you and your family.

doctor checkup

Photo by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia

Is there free healthcare in Australia?

Yes - if you are eligible for the Australian Medicare publicly funded health care scheme. It’s run by the government and it is the primary funder of health care for Australian citizens. This system subsides treatment from medical practitioners, some midwives, nurses and other health professionals. The system also allows for residents to get free treatment in public hospitals.

Are New Zealand citizens permanent residents of Australia?

Technically, no. The average Kiwi arrives in Australia under a SCV – special category visa. It lets you live and work in Australia but it does not make you a permanent resident. You can find out more about the process to become a resident at our blog here. This helps you to understand what you are entitled to when living in Australia as a Kiwi with an SCV and find out what benefits NZ citizens get in Australia.

Do NZ citizens get Medicare in Australia?

Yes - a NZ citizen can get a Medicare card if they have lived in Australia for more than six months in the previous twelve months and intend to stay for at least six months more, or if they have applied for permanent residency.

Until you’re enrolled (under Medicare), kiwis are normally covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement. This covers NZ Citizens in Australia for treatment in a public hospital.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreement

New Zealand and Australia have an agreement that means medically necessary care in a public hospital is free, and that you can access prescription medications at a lower price. It is designed as a temporary measure though, only for an illness or injury that has to be treated now. Any longer term treatment you may be required to return back to NZ.

canberra hospital

Canberra Hospital nurse Beena Jacob checking on a patient, DIAC images

Medicare enrolment for NZ Citizens

You will need to apply in person in a Medicare office. Take your passport and two documents that confirm you live in Australia. These documents can include:

  • Australian utility bill
  • Lease agreement or proof you’ve purchased a home in Australia
  • Evidence of legal employment in Australia
  • Australian bank accounts
  • Australian insurance
  • Proof your child/ren has enrolled at school or university in Australia
  • Proof of sale of property in NZ
  • Lease termination in NZ
  • Acceptance of your resignation from employment in NZ
  • Shipping documents for your furniture/ household goods from NZ to Australia

You can fill out this Medicare form in advance if you wish to save time.

Medicare Australia Entitlements

Enrolment in Medicare assures you of:

  • Free treatment in a public hospital
  • An 85% rebate on treatment fees for non-hospital appointments (i.e. doctor)
  • Medicare safety net; If you make a payment for more than the rebate, you can be eligible for this
  • Health Care cards are possible for those than need extra financial assistance. Generally permanent residents must wait an extra two years for this.

Medicare Eligibility criteria for New Zealanders

You may be eligible to enrol for Medicare. The criteria is that you are currently residing in Australia and:

  • Have permanent resident status
  • Have lived in Australia for 6 months plus in the last 12 months and intend to stay for at least 6 months longer.
  • Have made an application for a permanent resident visa and currently have a valid working visa
  • Have applied for permanent residency, have a current valid visa and your parents, spouse and/ or child is an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

What is covered under the Medicare System?

Prescription Medicine

The rebate is taken off the prescription before being sold to you. This ensures that the maximum most people will pay is AUD$23.10 if the drug is covered by the healthcare system. If you have a concession card, the most you’ll pay is $3.70.

Doctor Visits

Concession card holders may find that their doctor bills in bulk. If this is the case, a doctor’s visit should not cost you anything. However if they do not bill in bulk, the difference between the fee and the rebate will have to be paid by you. This needs to be paid at the time of the appointment. If you end up paying for the whole price of the appointment, the rebate can be claimed afterwards in person or via post at Medicare.

The standard appointment fee that Medicare covers is $29.45. Any difference between that and what the doctor charges will have to be paid by you.

Medicare Australia Contact Details

Medicare can be contacted on their website at -

Get travel and medical insurance

If you are not eligible for Medicare or assistance under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, then you will have to pay full price for all out-of-hospital costs. This includes ambulances, doctors visits, elective surgery / treatment and medical evacuation to New Zealand. It is highly recommended that you buy the right medical or travel insurance before travel to Australia.

Our Fixed Price Guarantee:

Our Fixed Price Guarantee:

Unlike many other movers, we will provide you with a fixed quote based on your specific list of items.

Should you wish to add or remove any items, we will adjust our fixed quote accordingly. Hence, no nasty surprises at the end of the move process.

Our Service Promise:

Our Service Promise:

  • We will listen to your individual needs and requirements.
  • We will provide a prompt, competitive quote with in one working day.
  • We will provide you with the highest level of service.
Free In-Home Consultation:

Free In-Home Consultation:

If you are moving the majority of your household items from New Zealand to Australia, one of Ausmoves experienced relocation consultants will visit your home to establish your specific packing requirements and any unique moving needs. Learn more about moving to Australia from NZ.

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