Guaranteeing Medicare – aligning reciprocal health care

This measure will align Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCAs) with the original intent of the agreements, which is to provide immediately necessary medical treatment to citizens of other countries who are temporarily residing in Australia.

Page last updated: 09 May 2017

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This measure will more closely align services provided by Australia with those provided by other countries, such as the United Kingdom, by no longer subsidising access to assisted reproductive technology services and related medicines to countries that have RHCAs with Australia.

Why is this important?

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements protect public health by providing essential medical cover for international visitors. These agreements are intended to provide immediately necessary medical treatment to people who are temporarily in Australia. They were never intended to cover elective or prearranged treatment, such as assisted reproductive technology (ART) services.

The new approach, which is in line with the UK’s stance on Australian temporary visitors, will be introduced from 1 November 2017.

It primarily affects around 130 patients each year, about 90 per cent of whom are women from the UK, who seek access to Australia’s highly regarded ART services while temporarily in Australia, as tourists or on working visas. These patients will now have to cover their own medical expenses as they will no longer be subsidised by the Australian Government.

Who will benefit?

Australian taxpayers will no longer subsidise treatments that can wait until the visitor returns home or for which the visitor can pay while they are here.

How much will this cost?

This measure will save $0.7 million from 2016–17 to 2020–21.

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