Read about section 19AA of the Health Insurance Act 1973 and its requirements for doctors who are permanent residents or citizens of Australia. 19AA determines who can bill patients under Medicare.
Peak period processing time frames
The Department of Health (Health) and Services Australia experience higher than usual processing times due to the peak Medicare provider number processing period between December and March. Applicants should allow a minimum of six weeks for their application to be processed and a Medicare provider number issued. Health and Services Australia process all Medicare provider number, section 19AB, and approved program placement applications in strict order of receipt to ensure procedural fairness to all applicants. Status updates are not provided, both organisations are working hard to process all applications as soon as practicable, and your patience is appreciated. More information on Services Australia's current processing times is available on its website.
From 31 October 2020, we are no longer waiving or streamlining Medicare requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Usual program rules now apply for doctors to meet their sections 19AA and 19AB conditions. Some program adjustments remain for Approved Medical Deputising Services (AMDSs) on the AMDS Program.
What is 19AA?
Doctors who are permanent residents or citizens of Australia must become vocationally recognised. Doctors become vocationally recognised by getting a Fellowship qualification in a specialty that is recognised in Australia.
Section 19AA of Australia's Health Insurance Act 1973 enforces this rule by law.
Under 19AA, you can’t get a Medicare provider number if you are a permanent resident or citizen of Australia, and you are not:
- recognised as a Fellow by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
- recognised as a Fellow by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
- recognised as a Fellow by an Australian specialist college
- on an approved 3GA program
Workforce and training programs to satisfy 19AA
If you do not hold Fellowship, you can provide services covered by Medicare if you are on a section 3GA approved training or workforce program:
- Approved Medical Deputising Services Program
- Approved Private Emergency Department Program
- Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Independent Pathway
- Australian General Practice Training Program
- More Doctors for Rural Australia Program
- Remote Vocational Training Scheme
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Practice Experience Program
The following programs are closed to new applicants. Current participants on these programs satisfy 19AA:
- Rural Locum Relief Program
- Special Approved Placements Program
- Temporary Residents Other Medical Practitioners Program
19AA for temporary residents
If you are a temporary resident of Australia, you satisfy 19AA by holding an exemption under section 19AB of the Act.
Help and support for 19AA
Contact us with questions on 19AA and for advice if you registered with the Australian Medical Board before 1 November 1996.