Medicare (Australia)

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Medicare is Australia's publicly funded universal health care system, operated by the government authority Medicare Australia. Medicare is intended to provide affordable treatment by doctors and in public hospitals for all resident citizens and permanent residents except for those on Norfolk Island. Residents with a Medicare card can receive subsidised treatment from medical practitioners who have been issued a Medicare provider number, and fully subsidised ("free") treatment in public hospitals. Visitors from countries which have reciprocal arrangements with Australia have limited access to Medicare, as detailed below.

The program was introduced in 1975 as Medibank, and supplemented by a government-owned private health insurance fund in 1976. It was renamed Medicare in 1984.

Since 1999, the public health scheme has been supplemented by a Private Health Insurance Rebate, where the government funds at least 30% of any private health insurance premium covering people eligible for Medicare. Including these rebates, Medicare is the major component of the total Commonwealth health budget, taking up about 43% of the total. The program is estimated to cost $18.3 billion in 2007–08.[1] This figure is projected to rise by almost 4% annually in real terms over the next few years.[1]


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