Saturday, 23 November 2013

One glaring hole in Australia's medical coverage (Medicare)

Just a quick one from us... There's so much to blog about, and our first few days here have been a truly overwhelming experience - in a good way. I promise to cover these events in more detail. Or arrow A to do it!

Most of you who do not reside in Australia, would nonetheless have heard of Australia's "free medical" care. Basically it covers all manner of essential medical care in a public hospital, and is subsidised for private hospitals. A Singaporean Son has this to share about his experience with the healthcare system...
She did everything for me, my medication, scans, MC, follow up appointments all in one bag (no bills felt really good)
He also blogs about what is essentially free delivery for babies in Oz. So there, if you can get a PR, it does seem like it makes perfect sense having your kids in Oz. But it's up to you. Some of you can't stand giving your offspring the option to quit. So to each his own.

But there is one big chasm in the Iron Dome coverage of Medicare... 


It costs a bomb if one ever needs an ambulance in Australia in most states, even in a genuine emergency. There are some exceptions and concessions for the less-privileged, but Australia isn't that much of a welfare state, and there is quite a formidable array of restrictions in place to deter freeloading. It puts Singapore to shame by a huge margin overall (except for ambulances...), but not throwing welfare to all and sundry does help to keep taxes down as compared to some of the truly welfare European states.

See these links here and here to get an idea of how much it costs to be in an ambulance in Australia.

As I have been in an emergency ambulance twice, whilst in Singapore (once more in a non-emergency ambulance... debatable whether it was an emergency but I was in a bad way), there's no way I'm letting my ass be exposed to such high risks.

So I set about doing some research, decided on Bupa's basic ambulance cover, logged in, and in ten minutes flat, A and I are covered for a year.

The premium? The princely sum of A$63, auto renewable and deductable from our Aussie bank account. This covers us both, anywhere in Australia.

How much are you paying for your private medical insurance in Singapore? I think I will be cancelling our plans very shortly, if further investigation yields no more "holes" in Medicare coverage.

- S


  1. The other glaring issue is the cost of medication as well....

  2. There seems to be subsidy. Not cheap in Oz for what I need, but cheaper than Singapore. Of course Johor Bahru is an extension of Singapore, so I didn't have an issue back then

  3. I didn't pay a cent during my entire cancer treatment as well. If that happened to me in Singapore, I wonder how much I have to. (I really don't know) And I will have to spend the rest of my life worrying about cost of follow ups, as if there isn't enough to worry about in Singapore. In my context, it was 'free' enough. I have not gotten private health insurance so I will get a real hit of few hundred bucks should anyone in my family require an ambulance service in future. So we will have to decide if we want to get private health insurance this year.

    If you use my situation as a case study, though medical cost in Australia is by no means FREE (as the term is used loosely and probably the original meaning is lost along the way) and is far from perfect, the system saved my ass from a serious financial strain. I may be set-back a 5-figure sum for what hit me (a C-sect delivery + cancer diagnosis + treatment + follow ups) if it happened to me in Singapore.

    The key point is not so much about having a comprehensive free medical system but more of a system which prevent the poorer people in the society from being wholly financially crippled should an unexpected illness befalls.

    When you have the time, go to a chemist, walk through the aisles and take a look at the prices of supplements and try to recall the prices of similar products in Singapore. Though I am never a supplement guy, I know people "have to" do it and benefited from the lower prices. It makes a difference because the supplementing goes on for life, whereas critical illness or accidents don't normally happen (hopefully). So if we look at healthcare holistically, in my opinion, I think we are in better hands in Australia. I'll be happy if you can bust that notion because I have not (and probably will not) research into the real figures on the medical system of both sides. So I'll wait for you to do that.

    1. Thanks for popping by after asking me to piss off!

      Seriously bro, get the coverage. Not sure how much it will cost your family but I'm guessing less than 200?

      I've heard anecdotes of bills running into the thousands. Of course maybe in rural areas people won't even bother waiting for ambulance, just get a neighbour to rush them to the hospital.

      But one never knows...

    2. yes, i must get coverage. thanks for the reminder. when are you giving up and coming to perth to look for jobs? hurry up

    3. There is a loading for new Australia PRs if private hospital cover is not purchased one year after registering for Medicare card.

      There is also a Medicare Levy Surcharge for tax payers in Australia who do not have private hospital cover.

  4. Not so soon lah. Just found a nice place to stay.

    Will try the job market here first. No big hurry :)

    I think I'd like the pace of life over there, but the weather is really scary from what you've said. :p


  5. Hi there, if you are earning a substantial amount of wages, then buying private healthcare insurance will be a better choice then having to pay the extra medicare levy surcharge.

    Also getting extra coverage will also help you with the dental bills. Medicare does not cover adult dental care.

    Also new migrants need to be aware of the Lifetime Health Cover, even if you decide that you don't need any private healthcare, it might be good idea to maintain a cheap policy to void any loading in the future.