Adrian is planning to visit Australia and wants to know how long he has to stay to qualify for Medicare benefits.
I am nearly 70 and in receipt of an Age Pension. I have lived overseas for the past five years. I am thinking of visiting family next year and was wondering how long I need to stay to qualify for Medicare benefits?
A. People who are returning to Australia from overseas to live are able to re-enrol with Medicare straight away.
However, as you are visiting, it does mean that there will be some restrictions on your Medicare entitlements.
Firstly, you will still be able to get care as a public patient in a public hospital without re-enrolling in Medicare.
Medicare will also cover some of your health costs if you are from a country with which Australia has a reciprocal health arrangement.
Australia has reciprocal health agreements with:
- the Netherlands
- New Zealand
- the Republic of Ireland
- the United Kingdom.
Each of the agreements have different stipulations and conditions for accessing medical care.
Most of the agreements require you to enrol in Medicare to get access to services and payments, which will usually require a visit to a Medicare service centre.
When you are filling out your forms, you will usually need some sort of documentation to prove your residency in a country that has a reciprocal health agreement with Australia.
If you get medical treatment in Australia before you enrol in Medicare, you may still be able to get a Medicare benefit for the treatment.
Once you enrol, you should then submit your claim for any treatments you have received, then they will contact you to let you know if you are entitled to a benefit or not.
Not all of the agreements cover prescription medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), so depending on the country you are returning from, you may have to pay more than most Australians for some of your medication.
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