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Gemini

Blood tests, prescriptions, RHCA

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Hi - hoping someone can help with my query? We are hoping to come over from the UK to visit our son in Brisbane when travel is allowed, who knows when that will be, but that is not my query.  

My husband needs to have a blood test every 3 months because of medication he takes for Rheumatoid Arthritis. He is also only able to get 3 months supply of medication in advance so, if we were to visit for longer than 3 months he will need to arrange a blood test and get a prescription for medication.  I expect these will not be covered by the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement because it is a pre-existing condition. I have checked the PBS list for the medication but does anyone know the procedure for getting a prescription and booking a blood test? Also, any idea what a blood test would cost?

We have done this in Spain where we took the UK prescription to the Spanish Health Centre, saw a doctor who changed this for a Spanish prescription which we took to the pharmacy. It was also straightforward to book a blood test. How would things work in Australia?

Thanks in advance.

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You can enter your medication on the PBS website and it should give you the PBS cost  Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) | About the PBS

I'm not sure how much the blood test would cost - at my pathology centre they do ask for a medicare card.  I have had to pay for blood tests that weren't covered by medicacare - they were less than $100 (but it's a few years ago).  I would do the same thing as you did in Spain, get a Dr. to give you a script, go to a walk in clinic or your sons GP and ask for a script.  There may be a charge for the Dr's appointment and you won't get a rebate (can be about $70).  The Dr will issue you with a script and pathology form.  Alternatively, you could ask your Dr to do a letter explaining what medication hubby needs prescribing and what tests.  

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2 hours ago, Gemini said:

My husband needs to have a blood test every 3 months ....I expect these will not be covered by the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement because it is a pre-existing condition.

There is nothing in the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement that excludes pre-existing conditions.  It covers all medically necessary procedures. The only exclusion is treatments that could be delayed until you go home. You do need to enrol in Medicare first, so you should get that done as soon as you arrive in Australia.  Then you will just go to a GP (there is no need to register with a doctor here, just go to any surgery).  I suggest you take a letter from your British doctor explaining his condition.

If you can find a surgery which says it "bulk bills", then the visit will be free.  They will give you a form to take to a pathology centre, where he'll have the blood test done (also free).  The GP can then write you a prescription.   The medicine will cost the same as it costs an Australian.

If you go to a surgery that doesn't bulk bill, there will be a co-payment to pay (called a "gap" here).   You will then also have to pay at the pathology centre, too (this has never seemed fair to me, but that's how it works). 

Edited by Marisawright
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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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3 minutes ago, Marisawright said:

There is nothing in the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement that excludes pre-existing conditions.  It covers all medically necessary procedures. The only exclusion is treatments that could be delayed until you go home. You do need to enrol in Medicare first, so you should get that done as soon as you arrive in Australia.  Then you will just go to a GP (there is no need to register with a doctor here, just go to any surgery).  I suggest you take a letter from your British doctor explaining his condition.

If you can find a surgery which says it "bulk bills", then the visit will be free.  They will give you a form to take to a pathology centre, where he'll have the blood test done (also free).  The GP can then write you a prescription.   The medicine will cost the same as it costs an Australian.

If you go to a surgery that doesn't bulk bill, there will be a co-payment to pay (called a "gap" here).   You will then also have to pay at the pathology centre, too (this has never seemed fair to me, but that's how it works). 

They will be on a tourist visa as I understand it


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15 minutes ago, ali said:

They will be on a tourist visa as I understand it

Yes, that's right.  The government website says, "If you’re in Australia for a short time and don’t need medical care, there’s no need to enrol."  It doesn't say you can't enrol.  My understanding is that if you are a British citizen and were resident in the UK immediately before arrival, you are entitled to take advantage of the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement even on a tourist visa. 

I'll be happy for someone to correct that if it's wrong.


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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10 hours ago, Marisawright said:

Yes, that's right.  The government website says, "If you’re in Australia for a short time and don’t need medical care, there’s no need to enrol."  It doesn't say you can't enrol.  My understanding is that if you are a British citizen and were resident in the UK immediately before arrival, you are entitled to take advantage of the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement even on a tourist visa. 

I'll be happy for someone to correct that if it's wrong.

No, I was just querying as you said to enrol with medicare - I didn't know you could do that as a tourist

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I just want PIO to be a happy place where people are nice to each other and unicorns poop rainbows

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Thank you very much for the replies here, it's a big relief to know it sounds straightforward and not a barrier to us having an extended stay. 

I had read that visitors could apply for Medicare but we've never needed it on our previous visits, I also thought I'd read somewhere that Medicare just covered emergency treatment so again, am relieved to learn it covers more than that.

My husband has been diagnosed with RA since our last trip. When he first became ill we thought he would never be able to do a long haul flight again, thankfully, things have improved since then.  

Our son and his girlfriend have only just relocated to Brisbane from Sydney so they are still getting used to the location themselves but in time they will be able to make the necessary enquiries for us. We're just trying to remain patient & positive until we can come out ourselves. Covid vaccinations are booked for next week so that's a step in the right direction!

Thanks again.

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Wouldn’t your travel insurance cover any medical costs? 

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1 hour ago, Quoll said:

Wouldn’t your travel insurance cover any medical costs? 

It's a pre-existing condition, so it would depend whether they can find a travel insurance that will accept it.

Edited by Marisawright
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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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17 hours ago, ali said:

No, I was just querying as you said to enrol with medicare - I didn't know you could do that as a tourist

Medicare don't encourage tourists to enrol.  Instead, you pay up front at the GP or other medical facility and then claim it back from Medicare by showing your British passport.  My parents had to do this when my father visited a few years back and had a catheter that needed to be changed by a medical professional.  My father tried to enrol in Medicare and was told this was the process for those on a tourist visa.

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On 15/02/2021 at 13:48, Loopylu said:

Medicare don't encourage tourists to enrol.  Instead, you pay up front at the GP or other medical facility and then claim it back from Medicare by showing your British passport.  My parents had to do this when my father visited a few years back and had a catheter that needed to be changed by a medical professional.  My father tried to enrol in Medicare and was told this was the process for those on a tourist visa.

Thanks Loopylu - good to know for the OP of someone who has been through the process

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