Life In Oz With No NHS

by mfafadmin on September 7, 2008

in Australia, Australia Travel

healthcareCANADA200When traveling overseas, one of the greatest risks one can face is having a medical emergency. The problem for United Kingdom citizens is that there is no National Health Service outside the country and often they fail to find ways to cope with the emergency on the road.

There are many discussions made throughout the Internet on the things you ought to know and do if placed in such a dire situation. One suggestion is your ability to adapt to your environment by learning what the emergency systems that are available in your area wherever in the world you are located. Your assessment of the availability of emergency services in your location should give you an idea as to the risk as well as preparedness you should have in case an accident happens. Particularly mentioned is Australia, as the country provides a unique landscape. The country is wide and expansive with few metropolitan areas where most of the public services are concentrated. In the outback, the emergency systems take so much more time to provide the service because of the sheer size of the country.

One of the keys to traveling is maintaining a healthy diet when on the road. Try to limit the eating of exotic food as it may cause a lot of problems for you if you are not careful. Also, drinking plenty of fluids is important to avoid heat stroke. Do be wary of the water you drink as it may give you the runs if it doesn’t sit well in your stomach. Finally, you must have quick and easy access to emergency services in your area. This can be in the form of a telephone access or travel access to the nearest medical facility in the area.

Another widely discussed topic is the costs attendant to an emergency. These include ambulance costs and actual medical costs of the emergency. Do not assume that the medical coverage you had in your home country can be extended to the country where you travel. Also, do not think that medical services in the country where you travel to operating at the same speed and quality as your home country. This is most especially evident in Australia, as there is a different system in place to handle medical emergencies, unlike in the United Kingdom where the National Health Service foots the medical bill for all residents.

It has been suggested in many discussion forums that it is imperative that one gets covered with health insurance when moving to another country especially Australia. This is one of the things that can help put your mind at ease when in another country. Since you still are fitting in, getting into a medical emergency can certainly put your world on a tailspin especially when you or a family member requires medical assistance. The insurance coverage is for the medical costs that the emergency entails and as you are just starting out, would have no funds available to cover the hospital bill. When faced with an accident or an illness, the last thing you should become worried about is paying for the steep medical bill. So before moving overseas, you need to research on insurance companies and find out the costs and coverage. As soon as you reach your new home country, procure the insurance to be able to have a wellspring to draw from when medical problems arise in your travel.

Health Care in Australia

Medicare is the public health system in Australia. One of its basic features is free universal access to hospital treatment and also provides outpatient medical treatment coverage. The funds for the system is taken from a 1.5% tax levy on all taxpayers with another 1% levy on high income earners. There is also a private health system operational in Australia that is funded by health insurance organizations. The largest is Medibank Private and is government owned governed as a private health fund. Other players in the health insurance market are for profit enterprises whose membership is dependent upon payment of premiums, much like a normal insurance business. The only difference though is that the coverage operates on a “community rating” basis where premiums are based on medical history, current health together with waiting periods for those with pre-existing conditions.  The Australian government, in its efforts towards privatization, has instituted incentives to entice individuals to engage private hospital insurance and thus unburden the Medicare system in place. A similar system is in place for the Pharmaceutical Benefits System, which is Australia’s support service for medication needs of its population.


Many of the discussions made online seem to be jovial and light but the content is something deep and serious. All the discussions underscore the fact that you need to know the emergency and medical services access numbers of the locale you would be immigrating to.  This knowledge will surely make the difference between life and death should a medical emergency occur. You also need to be aware of the cost of medical services in your area so as not to be shocked when the bill arrives.

Another mindset people need to unlearn when moving to another country is the medical coverage for their hospitalization. Those former residents of the United Kingdom are most often surprised that the National Health Service is not operational in Australia. The misconception stems from the strong and long links Australia has with the United Kingdom. Some even make the mistake of dialing 999, the UK number instead of 911, the Australian emergency services number.

You also need to be proactive in protecting yourself when moving to another country such as Australia. Eating good and clean food is essential in keeping healthy when in another country. When you choose to move to Australia, the climate would be very much different thus requiring you to be hydrated at all times. Overall, you need to learn about your new home country and acclimatize yourself with the ins and outs to be better able to adjust to your country of destination. Children seem to find it hardest to adjust to the heat and often suffer from dehydration. Also part of the acclimatization process is teaching your children respect for your new surroundings and environment. Also, you need to give the young ones pointers on health issues they may encounter and tell someone if they feel ill right away.

The health service in Australia is one of the most active in the developed world. This is due to the sheer size of Australia and the area that needs to be covered with services.  As an immigrant, one of the benefits immediately received is coverage under the Medicare and PBS system. Nowadays, the government is undertaking efforts to unburden the taxpayer funds of Medicare and PBS costs and offers incentives to engage the services of private insurance companies for medical emergency needs.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Giota September 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm

The Australian medical services number is NOT 911 it is 000!!!! n nPlease correct the error in the 3rd last paragraph.


Pat January 22, 2011 at 5:43 am

In Australia the emergency phone number is 000 (triple zero) and NOT 911.


d bolton December 24, 2011 at 7:48 pm

do you get any help if you are on life long medication for heart problems


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: