Medicare

Medicare is Australia's health care system. Medicare ensures that all Australians have access to free or low-cost medical, optometrical and hospital care while being free to choose private health services and in special circumstances allied health services.

Medicare provides access to:

    • free treatment as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital
    • free or subsidised treatment by practitioners such as doctors, including specialists, participating optometrists or dentists (specified services only).
Medicare covers all permanent residents and Australian citizens. Temporary residents and foreign diplomats and their dependants are excluded.

Medicare provider numbers

To work as a doctor in Australia, you may need to have a Medicare provider number. This number allows your patients to claim Medicare rebates for the services you provide.

A Medicare provider number may allow you to:
    1. raise referrals for specialist services; and
    2. make requests for pathology or diagnostic imaging services.
If you satisfy the legislative requirements, a provider number may also be used to:
    3. attract Medicare rebates for professional services rendered (that is, treat private patients).
A Medicare provider number does not automatically allow you to attract Medicare rebates for your services. You should ask your Australian employer which level of Medicare access for a provider number you need.

A Medicare provider number uniquely identifies both you and the place you work.

Medicare provider number restrictions

Overseas trained doctors (OTDs) are subject to Medicare provider number restrictions if they want to treat private patients. These restrictions affect where an OTD can work in Australia.

If you work in a District of Workforce Shortage you may be able to get exemption from these restrictions.

Medicare provider number restrictions
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How to apply for a provider number

Medicare provider numbers are issued by Medicare Australia after an OTD has been offered a medical job in Australia. You’ll find application forms on the Medicare website.

Provider number application forms

Contact Medicare Australia for more information

Phone: 132 150 (within Australia)
Email: medicare.prov@humanservices.gov.au (Type 'Application for Medicare provider number' in the subject heading, and include which State or territory you’ll be working in in the body of the email.)

Specialists

Specialists requiring access to Medicare rebates that attract a higher 'specialist' payment need to apply for recognition as a specialist for Medicare billing purposes.

Phone: 132 150 (within Australia)
Email: srac@humanservices.gov.au