Medicare: are you covered onboard?

Many travellers are aware that, when travelling in Australia, Medicare covers the cost of any health mishaps they may have. But what about when travelling around Australia?

Australia is, per capita, the biggest cruising country in the world. No wonder. We’re an island nation with plenty of ports and darn pretty coastline. Cruise ships can basically go anywhere from our shores.

Not to mention that the idea of cruising is also synonymous with convenience: just board, unpack once and enjoy multiple destinations.

And even though there is the added protection of onboard health services, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically covered for any medical emergency.

Well, it doesn’t mean they’ll throw you overboard if you fall ill (or down), it just means it may cost you an arm and a leg to be treated.

Onboard health staff are quite able, but not necessarily registered to practice in Australia. Also, Australian territory extends to around 22kms offshore, so go past that and you won’t be covered by our national health system. And Medicare won’t cover you on a cruise ship.

So, it’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance, even if you go on a domestic cruise.

Something that many travellers may not know, is that Medicare has a reciprocal arrangement with the health systems of several countries.

You’ll still need a certain level of health cover in your travel insurance, but the following nations will accept you as a publicly funded patient in a medical emergency:

So, it’s good to know that you can be subsidised for medically necessary care, emergency care and any health issues that can’t wait until you get back home. But you should still have travel insurance with appropriate health cover.

Were you aware that Australia had reciprocal health arrangements with these countries? Have you had any experience with foreign health systems?

Related articles:
Insurance for pre-existing issues
Travel insurance for older Aussies
Travel insurance for cruising

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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