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Australia: Economy and Healthcare

Relocating to Australia is a very sensible choice. Life in Australia is full of benefits for expats, apart from the obvious asset of the country’s beautiful nature. InterNations gives you an overview of housing, healthcare, education, and everything else you need to know about living in Australia.

Economic Overview

According to 2015 figures, Australia is the among the world’s 20 largest economies, with a high per-capita GDP of around 55,000 USD. Most laborers and employees work in the service sector, including tourism, education, and financial services. Export also plays an important role in Australia’s economy, in particular commodities rather than manufactured goods. Agriculture — vegetables, grains, fruit, livestock, and meat — and natural resources — gemstones, metals, and minerals—  also contribute substantially to Australia’s export performance.

Australia was also hit by the effects of the global financial and economic crisis when export levels declined in 2009. The economy has recovered fairly well, though. The more recent focus on science and technology has attracted new business, providing new employment perspectives for skilled employees.

However, while GDP did slow in 2013 at 2.7% — due to the end of the mining boom — the Australian economy has proven to be resilient and it has transitioned smoothly into a more service oriented environment


Australia has a public healthcare system called Medicare. It is funded by the so-called Medicare Levy. In most cases, this amounts to 2% of every eligible person’s taxable income, though there is an additional surcharge for high-income earners and a reduction for people with low incomes. The levy is automatically deducted from your monthly salary.

Every eligible person can register for a Medicare card. While Medicare covers the cost of most essential treatments, others like visits to the dentist, hearing or visual aids, and physiotherapy, among other things, are not paid for by Medicare. Although significantly cheaper than in some other countries, prescription drugs are not covered by Medicare, either. Chronically ill people can get help under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Everybody living in Australia on a permanent visa is eligible for Medicare assistance in the same way as Australian citizens are. However, most temporary visa holders need to take out private health insurance. You will be asked to provide evidence of your private healthcare coverage when applying for a working visa.

Some countries have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia: Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, and the UK.

Nationals of these countries can receive Medicare assistance for essential medical treatments while they are visiting Australia. However, this does not replace the benefits of private travel insurance, nor is it meant for long-term residents from these states.

Private Health Insurance

Even Australians are actively encouraged by their government to take out private health insurance if they can afford it. There are various financial incentives; for instance, a means-tested rebate  can amount to nearly 40%. However, if you are not eligible for Medicare in the first place, you won’t be able to benefit from these government schemes.

There is a wide variety of private healthcare providers — called funds — that offer different service packages. You can find more information about funds and other services on the Australian government’s private healthcare website. It also provides advice on the types of insurance required for certain temporary visas.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Serhat Ahmed

"Without experience of having lived abroad, I thought it would be hard to get to know other expats. But not with InterNations."

Lotta Koskinen

"When I first attended the Sydney Bar night I was really nervous. But everyone welcomed me and I quickly felt as part of the community."

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