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Australia Expat Forum


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1/15/2012 12:41 EST

Hello! So glad I found this forum! My husband and I currently live in California, United States. We want to move out of the country mostly due to one of the worst and most expensive health care systems in the world, but also because the US government is going down the drain. I have done lots of research, and am pretty sure the Australian government will grant us a visa. My husband may consider joining the military when we get there, also, to ensure a steady job and get citizenship faster.

Anyway- the point of my posting this is because I had some serious questions about the Australian health care system. Here in the United States, we pay $380 per month for the three of us (we have a 15 month old son, as well), which is not bad, but included in that is a huge co-insurance fee, $3500 a year deductible, and co-pays. I am working a retail management job not for the paycheck, but to stay insured. We are sick and tired of living our lives based on worry- worry that if I want a new job we will have a lapse in insurance, worried that if we pay out of pocket we will lose it. My husband is in the trades so it's rare that a job in his industry would offer insurance.

So, my question is- what has been your experience with the Australian health care system? Is it cost-effective? Is everyone covered all the time? Is it a sliding scale, meaning you pay a percentage or is it a flat rate for everyone? I read also that there is supplementary insurance available, do people need it/do most people have it?? IS IT WORTH MOVING TO AUSTRALIA FOR THIS?!?!

Sorry to carry on, but it's hard to find straight answers on the internet. We are not looking to move so we leech off the system. We are obviously completely ready to work full-time and pay all of our taxes!!!

Thanks in advance!

1/15/2012 13:56 EST

I was told by my Bancolombia manager that as of June 2012 there will be no more accounts openned for US citizens, as the new banking requirements from the US are too invasive.

1/16/2012 04:58 EST

Not quite sure what you mean... Accounts opened? Banking requirements?

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1/16/2012 05:55 EST

Came across your question whilst I was researching something else, and can probably answer your question pretty well as I am both Australian and ex Military.
Anyhow, Australia has virtually free health care ie: about 75-100% of health costs are borne by the Government. The system is called Medicare and is not too bad but not perfect; the same as every country with free health care you can be confronted with long waiting lists for non essential surgery, and sometimes have to wait for an hour in a waiting room to see a doctor for the flu or something. Of note to see a GP is free, all you need to do is present your medicare card, and prescription medicines are subsidised about 75%
Noting some shortcomings in the system, a lot of people opt for private health cover which ensures priority treatment in private hospitals etc. Prices are very competitive and attract a tax break at tax return time.
As for your partner joining the Military, be aware due to our small population and large country size, Australia has a smaller, more educated, higher trained force, therefore to get in is quite competitive- being in the Military is actually a middle class job. Not to say he can't do it, just pointing out that its quite selective.
Hope this helps

1/21/2012 16:20 EST

I gave birth to three sons while living in Australia for ten years. I found the healthcare to be superior to the US. I needed a c-section for each child and stayed in the hospital for about 10 days for each birth. When I went home I was healed enough to care for my baby. Infant Centers are in every town where babies are given check ups and vacinations. Visiting nurses will come to your home.

All of this is provided by the health care system. I suppose you could say it is paid on a sliding scale because a certain percentage; which is the same for everyone, is deducted from your salary.
So the more you make the more you pay to the system. I am not sure what percent is presently withheld, but it was only 1% when we lived there.

If a person wants to go to a specialtist, then their costs may be more and supplemental insurance may be purchased for this. We found we didn't need it and never purchased any. If a specialist is needed and is not elected by you, then that doctor is covered under the health care system. We did not find it difficult to make appointments or get any medical tests done as you hear about in Canada.

If I ever were to have another child I would go to Australia to give birth.

2/28/2012 06:52 EST

Hi disillusioned

There is a vast difference in the healthcare costs and execution of the US and Australia.

As a foreign citizen you would be best to take out private medical insurance from one of the many insurers. The private medical insurance in Australia is not the same as the US where huge co-payments are still required.

For example, in Australia if you are paying the top premium to the insurer, you might have little to no co-payment for hospital care and extras (allied health like dental, optical physiotherapy etc). Be aware that there are waiting periods for various functions and conditions, some which can be quite long before you can claim (eg pregnancy). Also, certain pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses are either not covered or have exclusions.

The Australian government introduced a catch where high income earners will pay more income tax if you don't join a private health insurer, so many nationals on incomes of say $100k or above tend to join private insurers anyway.

To get started, why don't you look at a couple of the bigger insurer's websites to get a feel for inclusions and prices. Try or



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