Aussies footing the bill for unpaid medical costs left by foreign visitors

Aussies left covering the doctor’s bill for errant tourists.

Aussies footing the bill for unpaid medical costs left by foreign visitors

Australian taxpayers are footing the bill for unpaid medical expenses left behind by backpackers and foreign tourists, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Visitors to New South Wales are leaving the biggest bills, with a recent report revealing that in 2018–19, NSW Health had charged $113.6 million to patients ineligible for Medicare rebates. Less than half of that was paid back and $19.7 has already been written off.

Tax-funded hospitals are the ones who end up covering the outstanding bills.

“That puts enormous pressure on the budget,” said NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard. “I am quite concerned, because that money would buy a lot of additional nurses and doctors.

“We will always look after those who come, but it’s not fair that Australian taxpayers should happily pick up the tab.”

NSW also has a higher rate of hospital expenses from international visitors compared to the rest of the country, with around 16,000 Medicare-ineligible people needing hospitalisation in the state each year, some with bills as high as $200,000, says the health minister.

Were you aware that you’re covering medical costs for errant tourists? How should the government/system deal with this?

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    COMMENTS

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    Jim
    25th Jan 2020
    7:45am
    Are the costs mentioned coming from countries that have reciprocal agreements with Australia or are they coming from other countries with no agreements, the article indicates that Medicare is unable to recover the costs, so I’m guessing the costs are from countries without reciprocal agreements.
    45er
    25th Jan 2020
    8:46am
    Maybe we refuse entriy to anyone who doesn't have travel / medical insurance.
    older&wiser
    25th Jan 2020
    11:34am
    And make them pay before they can leave the country. Threat of jail if they can't pay might help.
    KSS
    26th Jan 2020
    6:06pm
    Other countries do both these things. I fail to see why we wouldn't do the same. And some countries refuse treatment unless you pay in advance or prove you can pay for it. Then you have to pay before you are allowed to leave the hospital.

    In addition why can't we bill the Embassy who would be able to recoup the costs directly from the tourist in the home country?
    Russell
    25th Jan 2020
    12:21pm
    Maybe it is about time that Australia follows some of the 3rd world countries like Thailand where all ex-pats must have medical insurance for certain visa's or if they use any hospital and they do not have insurance or breach the terms and conditions of their insurance like many young Australians do in Thailand and Bali and make there insurance void by their own actions be refused discharge until the complete bill is paid. Many Australians travel to Thailand and Bali and only have the basic travel insurance which does not cover any risk activities and they just go ahead with the typical attitude of "I'm alright mate it wont happen to me" and then they have an accident and it is into hospital with no insurance cover and the people of Thailand and Bali are expected to pay for them, well that has been stopped because now they will not discharge them until they pay their bill. Many start "GoFundMe" to pay their bills for them.
    ex PS
    30th Jan 2020
    8:12am
    Don't worry, we are well under way to being on par with third world countries. We'll be there soon.
    OldEngineer
    25th Jan 2020
    1:41pm
    The same thing happened recently in Thailand, forcing the Thai govt to pass a law stating that all expats in that country have to have annual hospital insurance, possibly also tourist visitors as well but ime unsure of that. I understand a US$20 fee is charged each time?? to pay for hospital cover for the visa period.

    Perhaps Australia should impose the same thing here...all visitors must pay for accident cover each time they arrive here should they do not have a separate private cover. There should then be enough income for a govt insurance scheme to cover such costs.
    John
    pedro the swift
    25th Jan 2020
    1:43pm
    Simple answer!. Provide evidence of valid insurance before allowed in. Surely its a no-brainer. Try getting medical services in some other countries without having insurance and see how far you get!
    Robbo1
    25th Jan 2020
    7:33pm
    They have the money to travel; they should have the money to pay for their medical costs.

    If Australians needed medical attention overseas, we're told to pay up or go home at our own expense The same rules should apply for these freeloaders, who know full well, that Australians are a soft touch andtake advantage of our generosity.
    Blossom
    25th Jan 2020
    10:33pm
    If International Students come to SA to study they have to have Private Health Insurance or they are sent back home. If they get behind with their payments and don't catch up very quickly they are also sent home. I know somebody who used to handle that.
    Unless travellers can prove that they have travel insurance or are getting private health insurance here they should not be allowed to enter Australia.
    Blossom
    25th Jan 2020
    10:33pm
    If International Students come to SA to study they have to have Private Health Insurance or they are sent back home. If they get behind with their payments and don't catch up very quickly they are also sent home. I know somebody who used to handle that.
    Unless travellers can prove that they have travel insurance or are getting private health insurance here they should not be allowed to enter Australia.
    Blossom
    25th Jan 2020
    10:35pm
    The only exception should be volunteers who come to help Aust. with emergency assistance.
    Blossom
    25th Jan 2020
    10:35pm
    The only exception should be volunteers who come to help Aust. with emergency assistance.
    PRIMROSE
    26th Jan 2020
    3:05pm
    Don't forget the Aussies who do exactly the same thing in the UK!!
    johninmelb
    26th Jan 2020
    3:32pm
    Australia and the UK have a reciprocal agreement.

    While we are in the UK we are covered by the NHS if we need to see a doctor or go to hospital. However, we have to pay full price for prescriptions, not the NHS rate. At least I did last time I had to use the NHS some years ago. I don't think Dental is covered either.

    UK citizens visiting Oz get treated under Medicare for the basic services, gp visit, hospital etc.
    Unikat
    27th Jan 2020
    7:25am
    Is that $19 or 19k or 19m or 19b?

    The last would include some very serious interventions - have a heart - Australia can afford it, it is a tiny fraction of our hospital budget.
    I know of a paralympian who felt sick while visiting here and required cancer treatment for which they were not insured. Followup treatment was in their country of origin.
    How many Aussies fall foul overseas.
    I have pre-existing conditions and although I carefully read provider exclusions - even so I worry - many would assume they were covered.
    There are all sorts of reasons why someone may not be covered, you cannot judge without knowing the circumstances.
    Dot
    27th Jan 2020
    7:26am
    Australians have been screwed for the past few years and will be continually screwed. So suffer all of you. I've wasted my life being patriotic to this country now I'm looking forward to the here after.
    Chris B T
    28th Jan 2020
    10:52am
    How many of the Medical Visits are related to Work Related Incidents.
    Going to EMD's so the Work Cover is avoided and/or wasn't employed properly or was not entitled to work ie. Tourist Visa not a Working Visa.
    Not working to the conditions on Visa.
    Not following "Normal OH&S Requirements"
    These are some of the Reasons that may have contributed to this Cost Bow Out.
    The Doctor Surgeries where I live in Regional Area have non Medicare displayed Fee's displayed. Then advise to go EMD's if urgent medical/Xray etc.


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