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Eligible for Medicare on 489 provisional regional Tasmania?

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Hi, I am moving to Tas in December on a 489. However I’ve just ruptured a disc in my back. I’m currently doing physio, but my question is: if physio is not successful and I have to go down the route of steroid spinal injections or surgery. Will this be covered under Medicare?

I will earn under the threshold and I am from the UK. I will be taking out separate health insurance but it’s unlikely they will cover any preexisting for 12 months.


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If you're currently living in the UK, then you will be covered by Medicare under the reciprocal agreement.  Officially that means you are entitled to "essential treatment".  Elective surgery is not covered (and although those suffering might not agree, spinal fusion is considered elective).   Physiotherapy is not covered by Medicare, you have to pay privately and it is expensive.  You can get cover with a health fund under an "Extras" cover.

I wouldn't worry about the surgery, by the time they start suggesting that, you'll be past the waiting period anyway.  It's a last resort because it's a big, expensive operation with a long recovery road and  a relatively low success rate.  I've had double spinal fusion.  It cost about $35,000 (of which my health insurance paid $25,000).  You're totally out of action for three months, in physio for the next three months, and have to be careful (no vigorous sport etc) for twelve months because that's how long the bone takes to set around the screws. 

it was very successful in my case - but I had mine done using a new procedure at one of the top neurosurgical units in the world, in Sydney. I've since met several people who have horror stories about their fusion (and the relatives of one person who didn't make it...), and if I'd met them before the op, I would've been far more hesitant!   Particularly as it doesn't always stop the pain (though it did in my case). 

Good luck with the physio.  When you get here, look for practitioners who call themselves "manipulative therapists".  They have a slightly different kind of training which includes very gentle spinal manipulation, and it helps.  You don't want to go near a chiropractor with a ruptured disk, but an osteopath is another option.  


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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Thank you for your reply. I’m glad your op was successful:)

what im trying to find out is if on a 489 Provisional we get access to the full Medicare provision. 

(For my treatment I won’t need a fusion but may need spinal injections or the area of disc that has extruded removed- so it’s off the nerve. Although physio is showing and improvement. Physio also can do spinal manipulation so I’ll look for one you mentioned)


thank you 🙂

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My husband has steroid injections into his knee to manage pain caused by arthritis.  He sees a consultant in a public hospital and so the procedure is free.  If he got the injections done by his GP who bulk bills (ie no out of pocket costs for an appointment), they cost about $350.  For some reason, the steroid injections can't be bulk billed by GPs but you can get them done for free in hospital.  I suggest that when you get here (and subject to your visa allowing you to access Medicare) you get a GP to refer you to a consultant in the public system.

I googled 489 Provisional Visa and it appears you will need private health insurance.  You will only get the essential treatment cover that Marissa mentioned above under the UK/Australia reciprocal agreement which would not include elective procedures such as the steroid injections.

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