Cruising medical cover

You are not necessarily covered by Medicare when travelling on a cruise ship in Australia.

Cruising medical cover

Did you know that you are not necessarily covered by Medicare when travelling between two Australian ports?

Although the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel website claims that Medicare benefits are available for Australian citizens travelling between two Australian ports, this only applies if you are treated onboard by a doctor who is registered with Medicare.

As it stands cruise ships are not required to hire doctors registered with Medicare, and many ships choose not to do so. This is because doctors are often contracted on a global basis, not just for cruises within Australia, so it would be very difficult to find doctors who were registered simultaneously with multiple countries’ national health schemes.

An overnight stay in the sick bay while you are cruising can therefore cost you in excess of $3000.

So, even if you are just travelling a short distance between two Australian ports, it is important to take out travel insurance for the trip. It could save you a hefty sum in unexpected medical bills. If you have friends who travel on cruise ships it might also be a good idea to share this article with them, because knowing this small fact could save someone from an unnecessarily costly end to their holiday.

Do you always take out travel insurance if your cruise is staying within Australian waters? Has a cruising company made you aware of the fact that you won’t be covered by Medicare when you booked your tickets?


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    14th Apr 2014
    Travel insurance for any large cost trip is essential. It covers you for other things besides medical, but agreed you should take it out for all cruises.
    14th Apr 2014
    Interesting article, I was of the understanding that individuals were covered by Medicare due to being in Aussie water. I have been told that many folk choose a around Australia cruise for that very reason..
    I hope travel agents and cruise companies make their passengers aware of this before the individual commits with a deposit.
    14th Apr 2014
    I thought the same thing, Cindy. Interesting.
    14th Apr 2014
    I think the only thing you don't have to worry about is a is always a good thing to have travel insurance - consider the cost if you were desperately ill and had to be airlifted off the ship
    14th Apr 2014
    dippity, consider the cost of ambulance transport too. A short trip in some areas is a mininim of $600.00 or more.
    We always had travel insurance when travelling via coach tours too. AI know that some Travel Agents do advise people to have travel insurance whether going interstate or overseas. Not all things are covered by Medicare and if you have to seek emergency medical treatment not all practitioners have provider numbers which means you can have a huge gap. If you are taken to the Emergency Dept. of a Private Hospital you may find you are charged over $200.00 even if you are a pensioner. You cannot claim it from Medicare or your private health insurance.
    Well, that is what happens in SA anyway. One hospital charges $220.00 for pensioners and $280.00 for non-pensioners even if you are sent there with a letter from your GP. We found out the Emergency Depts at some of them are not run by the hospital themselves, they are run by a company who has a contract whith the hospital. What is more they charge the fee up front.
    15th Apr 2014
    I went on a cruise to Tasmania in January and took out a Comprehensive policy with Woolworths, specifically for Australian Cruises. Best value policy I could find. Fortunately I did not need to use it.

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