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GeoffL

Reciprocal health care - potentially worse than useless for non-residents

24 posts in this topic

I have to say that we've found Aussie health care more efficient than the NHS, but we almost found out the hard way that the combination of Aussie banking rules and Medicare's requirements potentially place out of reach the reciprocal subsidised health care to which tourists from the UK should be entitled. The issue stems from the following factors:

 

 

 

  1. You need to register with Medicare before you can access reciprocal health care.
  2. Medicare require details of 'your' Australian bank account for registration and will only pay into Australian bank accounts.
  3. AFAICT, you need to be a resident of Australia (as opposed to a temporary visitor) to open an Australian bank account.

 

 

The "worst" aspect for us is that the health components of our travel insurance require us to use reciprocal health care in all countries that have an agreement with the UK and failure to follow this requirement invalidates our health insurance.

 

A bit of lateral thinking on our part had us ask Medicare if we could give our son's Aussie bank details. They said, "Yes" and so we were able to register. However, I suspect that tourists who don't have a handy Aussie resident may find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

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I am pretty sure you can open a bank account if on a temp visa.

 

Cal x

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Just had a quick Google and found this

'' [h=3]Wait, I'm coming to Australia for a holiday and want to open a bank account there. Is that possible?[/h]The simple answer to this question is: yes. Non-resident accounts (for tourists and visitors) do exist with certain banks, for example, the big four: Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac. Contact your desired bank direct with the details of your situation to discuss your options. Click the links above to find out more about Australian banks and what they can offer you as a non-resident.

https://www.finder.com.au/moving-to-australia/opening-a-bank-account-in-australia

 

Cal x

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I opened bank account on temp visa...but also when I registered with Medicare I didn't need to provide bank details...I have done now but didn't need to at start and still got card

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I treat patients from the UK who are holidaying in Australia without Medicare cards every week in a public ED. They are not required to pay. This does not hold however if they have stayed somewhere else on there way to Australia. See: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements

People migrating from the UK to Australia, do however have different rights of access to health care and responsibilities to declare their status in Australia.

As an aside, I gather sexual health treatment in Queensland Health is free irrespective of your nationality or Visa status.

 

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Just needed to present at A&E with my Irish passport, without registering with Medicare.

 

Full care given without any further questions asked.

 

Bank account as above can be opened online prior to arrival in oz.

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We didn't bother applying as it was only a GP visit - but last time we did - about five years ago and didn't need a bank account. Have they changed the rules?

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The bank account is for refunds where appropriate. Not an issue if no gap payments are made and bulk billed. Otherwise they need an address to send a cheque.

 

You can present your passport and should be treated without need of Medicare card. The forms are meant for residents mostly and not all things apply to visitors. If you are unsure pop into a Medicare office to check.

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I never needed to give my bank account details. I also paid at a dr before registering then took that receipt into Medicare and they gave me cash.

 

unfortunately lots of Medicare staff are clueless when it comes to temporary visas. Even when I got my permanent one someone there tried to tell me it was a temporary visa so I couldn't get full Medicare. And that said permanent on it! Lol.

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Thanks for the replies, but I'm baffled. I can only report as I found it:

 

My wife had symptoms that could be a DVT that appeared about a week after our flight over. She attended a local health centre that advertised itself as "bulk billing", produced her passport and EVO printout and asked for reciprocal health care. The receptionist told us that she'd have to pay their standard charge and get a refund from Medicare, for which she'd need to register. The doctor she saw said she needed a CT scan and gave us a form to pass to the radiology centre of our choice, and recommended one in Lilydale, VIC (which is probably the nearest to where we're staying).

 

We checked our travel insurance and noted that it required us to use reciprocal health care. It also gave instructions that confirmed the need to register with Medicare. So we attended the Lilydale Medicare centre only to find out they were on strike. An hour's drive later and we were in Knox Medicare office to be told that we couldn't have a card as we're not going to be in Oz long enough. We could have Medicare numbers, but would have to complete the form she gave us, which required us to provide Australian bank account details. This seems to be confirmed at https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/forms/3101, which says, "Use this form to enrol for Medicare if you hold a relevant visa, have applied for permanent residency or are a visitor from a reciprocal health care agreement country." and contains a link to the online version of the form, which makes it clear that they only pay refunds into Australian bank accounts. The staff at the Knox Medicare office refused to let us enrol until we offered to provide our son's bank account details (i.e. until we gave details of an Aussie bank account).

 

We ended up paying out about $300 to the health and radiology centres and are expecting a refund of just under half that into our son's account. Strangely, the balance is just under the excess of our health insurance!

 

I tried yesterday to open basic accounts with NAB, Commonwealth, Westpac, and a couple of smaller banks. Each refused as I'm not a resident but their websites suggested I could open a migrant account. On checking, these accounts seemed to be for those who intend to permanently migrate to Australia (which, thanks to visa costs, waiting times, and other circumstances, we're not). However, I've just contacted Westpac, who confirm that I can have an account as a regular visitor -- although they were silent on monthly charges etc!

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I never needed to give my bank account details. I also paid at a dr before registering then took that receipt into Medicare and they gave me cash.

 

All Medicare offices became cashless a couple of years ago so it's no longer possible to get a refund in cash from Medicare. I believe they can still post you a cheque - but depositing an Australian cheque into a foreign bank account is going to cost a lot in fees. I don't know if the cheques can be cashed at an Australian bank or not.

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It is much easier doing it the bank way than when you took reciepts into the shop. I actually find my medicare rebate goes into my account before the Dr's fee is taken out which is weird but definately a prompt refund.

 

Cal x

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My sister had an Australian bank account on her WHV that's only a temporary visa, I can't see why you couldn't open an account?

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Just to clarify GeoffL. A Medical Centre is not government run or owned facility. They are essentially a private business who contract their services to the patient, in turn the federal government agrees to pay all (bulk billing) or part (the gap) of the health care cost IF the person has a Medicare card. The medical centre may offer other services, e.g. imaging (x-rays, etc), allied health, and even complimentary health services (naturopathy, etc). But it is still a private health marketing business.

The reciprocal rights agreement ONLY gives you access to free emergent care, with the proviso I mentioned earlier, AT A PUBLIC ED.

If a UK patient attends a public ED with suspected DVT. The ED component is free. If they require ongoing medication such as a LMWH and warfarin or NOAC they pay retail pharmacy noncompensible costs, ie. no PBS relief.

Hope this clears up the minefield of Australian health care billing a little.

Also beware of of ambulance costs. I gather billing for this changes by state. You could be out of pocket a lot of money if you or a concerned bystander for example call 000 on your behalf, and a helicopter responds, you could be approaching entering a 5 figure bill.

All I can do is strongly advise that your health care covers all of these possibilities.

 

 

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Just to clarify GeoffL. A Medical Centre is not government run or owned facility. They are essentially a private business who contract their services to the patient, in turn the federal government agrees to pay all (bulk billing) or part (the gap) of the health care cost IF the person has a Medicare card. The medical centre may offer other services, e.g. imaging (x-rays, etc), allied health, and even complimentary health services (naturopathy, etc). But it is still a private health marketing business.

The reciprocal rights agreement ONLY gives you access to free emergent care, with the proviso I mentioned earlier, AT A PUBLIC ED.

If a UK patient attends a public ED with suspected DVT. The ED component is free. If they require ongoing medication such as a LMWH and warfarin or NOAC they pay retail pharmacy noncompensible costs, ie. no PBS relief.

Hope this clears up the minefield of Australian health care billing a little.

Also beware of of ambulance costs. I gather billing for this changes by state. You could be out of pocket a lot of money if you or a concerned bystander for example call 000 on your behalf, and a helicopter responds, you could be approaching entering a 5 figure bill.

All I can do is strongly advise that your health care covers all of these possibilities.

 

 

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Good point, in Victoria for example a helicopter ride could cost you $23,842

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/hospitals-and-health-services/patient-care/ambulance-and-nept/ambulance-fees

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Ouch! $23k+ seems a bit steep, particularly if you didn't call 000 yourself. Thankfully, we're now back in Blighty and can put the whole issue behind us -- albeit better equipped for the next trip.

 

FWIW, my wife's scan showed she had a baker's cyst, a condition for which the health centre inappropriately prescribed antibiotics and later wanted to send my wife back for a further scan and prescribe another course of antibiotics (at additional cost to us). However, with the condition now identified, searching the NHS website and talking to a friend who's had one of these cysts gave us more than a passing suspicion that financial motivation was involved. We said, "Thanks, we'll refer back to our GP on returning to UK!"

 

On the subject of Aussie bank accounts, I tried in person at a branch of each of the big four and was turned down. Later, I contacted Westpac by phone to be told I could open an account. When I tried at a branch, I found out that these accounts are intended for migrants preparing for their move to Aus and, although I could open the account, I could only withdraw money from it after I'd provided proof of identity including an Aussie utility bill in my name. Thus any Medicare reimbursement (or other deposited funds) would be locked in an Aussie bank account in my name but from which I couldn't withdraw any funds!

Edited by GeoffL

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Just needed to present at A&E with my Irish passport, without registering with Medicare.

 

Full care given without any further questions asked.

 

Bank account as above can be opened online prior to arrival in oz.

 

Ireland has a different agreement to the UK.

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Ouch! $23k+ seems a bit steep, particularly if you didn't call 000 yourself. Thankfully, we're now back in Blighty and can put the whole issue behind us -- albeit better equipped for the next trip.

 

FWIW, my wife's scan showed she had a baker's cyst, a condition for which the health centre inappropriately prescribed antibiotics and later wanted to send my wife back for a further scan and prescribe another course of antibiotics (at additional cost to us). However, with the condition now identified, searching the NHS website and talking to a friend who's had one of these cysts gave us more than a passing suspicion that financial motivation was involved. We said, "Thanks, we'll refer back to our GP on returning to UK!"

 

On the subject of Aussie bank accounts, I tried in person at a branch of each of the big four and was turned down. Later, I contacted Westpac by phone to be told I could open an account. When I tried at a branch, I found out that these accounts are intended for migrants preparing for their move to Aus and, although I could open the account, I could only withdraw money from it after I'd provided proof of identity including an Aussie utility bill in my name. Thus any Medicare reimbursement (or other deposited funds) would be locked in an Aussie bank account in my name but from which I couldn't withdraw any funds!

 

 

about the Aussie bank account... We opened an account with westpace from the UK in 2012. I contacted them by email and explained that we intended to migrate eventually but would be regular visitors for the time being. They rang to discuss it and said we could open a current account with a debit card and a linked E-saver account. They sent the forms in the post which I filled in and returned to their branch in London. The account was officially opened on the understanding that no debit card or other service would be provided until we gave proof of identity and this had to be within six months. We were travelling to London on a European holiday within this timeframe so took the opportunity to visit the London branch of westpac then (rang ahead and made an appointment) The bank clerk in London went through the paperwork, set up our esaver account for us and we chose passwords there and then. When we arrived home from our holiday two weeks later our debit cards were waiting for us. It costs five dollars a month, which we consider worthwhile because the account has been incredibly useful, particularly because we can transfer money over for our next visit while the exchange rate is good (or at least not so bad). I believe NAB will do this also and I don't think they charge. Worth persevering!

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We opened a NAB account over the phone in U.K. Transferred funds into it using moneycorp. Then a 30'min appointment in branch 2 days after we landed in Perth and account was all up and running and bank cards were in our hands. Then we popped up the road to Ahpra to complete my wife's registration. All done on a etourist visa. We are sending money over again in a few weeks as we are on our way back for holiday in February.

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On the subject of Aussie bank accounts, I tried in person at a branch of each of the big four and was turned down. Later, I contacted Westpac by phone to be told I could open an account. When I tried at a branch, I found out that these accounts are intended for migrants preparing for their move to Aus and, although I could open the account, I could only withdraw money from it after I'd provided proof of identity including an Aussie utility bill in my name. Thus any Medicare reimbursement (or other deposited funds) would be locked in an Aussie bank account in my name but from which I couldn't withdraw any funds!

 

You need to prove your identity in a branch before withdrawals are allowed but an Aussie utility bill isn't essential (not with ANZ anyway - obviously Westpac are entitled to have their own rules). We visited Australia a couple of years before we moved and activated our (ANZ) bank account then - long before we had any Australian utility bills.

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You need to prove your identity in a branch before withdrawals are allowed but an Aussie utility bill isn't essential (not with ANZ anyway - obviously Westpac are entitled to have their own rules). We visited Australia a couple of years before we moved and activated our (ANZ) bank account then - long before we had any Australian utility bills.

 

I doubt very much if anyone that had just migrated to Australia would have an Australian utility bill and yet most people seem to be able to activate their accounts when they first arrive.

 

 

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I have to say that we've found Aussie health care more efficient than the NHS, but we almost found out the hard way that the combination of Aussie banking rules and Medicare's requirements potentially place out of reach the reciprocal subsidised health care to which tourists from the UK should be entitled. The issue stems from the following factors:

 

 

 

  1. You need to register with Medicare before you can access reciprocal health care.

  2. Medicare require details of 'your' Australian bank account for registration and will only pay into Australian bank accounts.

  3. AFAICT, you need to be a resident of Australia (as opposed to a temporary visitor) to open an Australian bank account.

 

 

The "worst" aspect for us is that the health components of our travel insurance require us to use reciprocal health care in all countries that have an agreement with the UK and failure to follow this requirement invalidates our health insurance.

 

A bit of lateral thinking on our part had us ask Medicare if we could give our son's Aussie bank details. They said, "Yes" and so we were able to register. However, I suspect that tourists who don't have a handy Aussie resident may find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Geoff you can open a bank account with NAB online. In fact my mum who never had a visa opened one up a few years back when she was intending on moving, she still uses the account from the UK. She just went in to the branch with her passport and it was all set up. Maybe have a word with NAB, they have a forum on here you could ask them a question or private message them.

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You need to prove your identity in a branch before withdrawals are allowed but an Aussie utility bill isn't essential (not with ANZ anyway - obviously Westpac are entitled to have their own rules). We visited Australia a couple of years before we moved and activated our (ANZ) bank account then - long before we had any Australian utility bills.

All they ask for is your passport, I think you have 28 days from arrival in to the country where you can open an account just by showing a passport, anytime after that period you have to do the 100 point check. That's how it use to be but things change all the time

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Good point, in Victoria for example a helicopter ride could cost you $23,842

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/hospitals-and-health-services/patient-care/ambulance-and-nept/ambulance-fees

One of my veterinary colleagues injected himself with a high dose of barbiturate and workplace health called an ambulance, the hospital was 500m away, the bill was $4500 this was a number of years ago in Melbourne.

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