What Medicare covers

Medicare subsidises a large number of health services and products. You can use your Medicare card to access medical services, hospital services for public patients, surgical services, prescription medicines, eye tests, pathology tests, imaging and scans.

What is covered

Medicare subsidises the costs of:

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises medicines for people with a Medicare card. 

If you and your healthcare provider have opted in, you can use My Health Record to keep track of your health care, tests results and medicines.

Read about accessing Medicare benefits.

Hospital services

If you’re a public patient in a hospital Medicare subsidises things like:

  • emergency care
  • most surgeries and procedures (there might be a wait time if it’s not an emergency)
  • medicines provided to you in hospital
  • follow-up care.

Read more about hospital under Medicare and hospital costs.

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) lists all the hospital services with MBS item numbers that Medicare covers.

For private patients, while Medicare covers some of the doctor’s fees,,  it doesn’t cover hospital charges like accommodation and theatre fees. Private health insurance can help cover these costs, if you have it.

Medical services

A wide range of medical services are subsidised under Medicare through the MBS.

Medical services that Medicare subsidises include:

Read more about health care under Medicare.

Not all health practitioners bulk bill. When you make your appointment, check how much you will have to pay, if anything.

Read more about medical services costs.

Tests, imaging and scans

Diagnostic imaging

Medicare, through the MBS, covers many diagnostic imaging services, such as:

To be eligible for a Medicare rebate, MRI and PET scans must:

You can request to go to a provider of your choice, as long as they meet these criteria. Not all imaging and scan providers bulk bill. When you make your appointment, check with the provider how much you will have to pay, if anything.

Read more about imaging and scans under Medicare.

Pathology tests

Medicare, through the MBS, covers pathology tests – such as blood, urine or tissue – to screen for, diagnose or monitor disease.

If your GP requests more than 3 tests on the same day, Medicare will only pay for the 3 most expensive tests.

There is no limit on the amount of tests a specialist can request.

Not all pathology labs bulk bill, but many do. Before you go, check with them how much you will have to pay, if anything.

Read more about pathology tests under Medicare and how pathology tests work.

Eye tests

Medicare covers eye tests done by an optometrist:

  • once every 3 years if you’re under 65 years
  • once a year if you’re 65 years or older. 

Medicare does not cover glasses or contact lenses, but you might be able to access state or territory schemes.

Not all optometrists bulk bill. Check with them when you make your appointment.

Read more about eye tests under Medicare.


The PBS subsidises a wide range of prescription medicines. 

While many non-PBS medicines are available for purchase over the counter, there are other ways to access subsidised medicines if they are not on the PBS. 

The National Immunisation Program covers the cost of vaccines to eligible Australians.

Read more about medicines and their cost.

What isn’t covered

Medicare does not cover the costs of:

  • ambulance services
  • most dental services
  • glasses and contact lenses
  • hearing devices
  • elective and cosmetic surgery
  • services not on the MBS
  • services provided through the private health system.

If you have private health insurance, it might cover some of the costs that Medicare doesn’t cover, depending on your policy.

Medicare doesn’t cover your healthcare costs overseas – you will need travel insurance. But countries that have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with us may cover some of your costs.

Support from other programs

You might be eligible for free or subsidised medical services and products not covered by Medicare through the:

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