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Medicare warning for Aussie travellers: ‘Literally saved my life’

Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with 11 countries around the world but you'll need your Medicare card handy to benefit from them.

Heading overseas for a European summer? Don’t forget to pack your Medicare card in your luggage as it could save you thousands of dollars.

We know our Medicare cards provide a safety net for doctor visits and medical care at home in Australia, but they also provide perks when you're travelling overseas to certain countries.

That’s because Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with 11 countries, including the likes of the UK, Italy and the Netherlands, which will help cover the cost of medical care for Aussies if they find themselves in an urgent bind.

Jordan's Journeys and Medicare card
Travel TikToker Jordan's Journeys is urging all Aussies travelling to Europe to bring their Medicare cards with them. (Source: TikTok/AAP)

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Aussie travel TikToker Jordan’s Journeys shared he had only recently found out about the travel tip.


“If you are Australian and you are going to Europe this year, you need to take your Medicare card,” Jordan said on TikTok.

“Essentially it does not trump travel insurance so still take out a policy and countries won’t pay for medical evacuations and you might be out of pocket for private stays in hospital or medicine.”


A number of Aussies shared they had benefited from the scheme while travelling overseas, with one saying she had all her medical costs covered while in Malta and another saying he paid “nothing” for care in Italy.

“This agreement literally saved my life a few years ago. So so very grateful and lucky,” another wrote.

Let’s take a closer look at the scheme.

Reciprocal health care agreements help cover the cost of medically necessary care for Aussies visiting covered countries. On the flip side, they also provide care to visitors from these countries who are visiting Australia.

The agreements don’t cover all medical situations, according to Smartraveler, so you will still need to take out travel insurance.

They are usually for urgent care that can’t wait until you get home. Plus, they may not pay for your total medical costs and you may still need to make a co-payment. They also don’t cover private health care or medical evacuations.

To benefit from the agreement, you’ll need to prove you’re from Australia and eligible for Medicare. You can do this by showing your passport and, most importantly, your Medicare card.

Australia currently has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with the following countries:

  • Belgium

  • Finland

  • Italy

  • Malta

  • The Netherlands

  • New Zealand

  • Norway

  • The Republic of Ireland

  • Slovenia

  • Sweden

  • The United Kingdom

Each country decides what they’ll cover or subsidise. For example, some countries will cover other medical costs like medicines, local medical transport and specialist services.

You can find out more about the specific agreements and what is covered on the Services Australia website.

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