Moving To Australia? Here’s What You Need To Know About Medical Insurance

If you’re planning to live and work in Australia, it’s important to understand how the health system works because like most countries, medical attention is expensive. The last thing you want is to end up spending the money you’ve put aside for a great Aussie holiday on a bed in hospital!

Australia has both public and private healthcare systems.

The public healthcare system, known as Medicare, gives most Australians free or discounted health services. Medicare benefits can also be available to people from countries with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) ie. the United Kingdom; New Zealand; Italy; Belgium; Malta; Netherlands; Sweden; Finland; Norway; Slovenia; and the Republic of Ireland.

It’s important to know that even if you come from a country with an RHCA agreement, some visas do not provide access to Medicare. If you come from one of the RHCA countries above, contact Medicare to make sure you’re aware of exactly what cover you’re entitled to.

If you’re not eligible for Reciprocal Medicare, you’ll definitely need private health insurance… and even if you are eligible for Medicare you may want to consider it. That’s because it will cover you for an emergency trip to hospital by ambulance as well as helping towards the cost of a number of treatments in a private hospital, outpatient visits, doctor’s fees and even prescription medications.

The Fees You Can Expect To Pay

Medical Attention

Doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists have a set fee called the Medicare Benefits Schedule fee, which is covered by Medicare if the procedure is performed in a public hospital and if you’re covered by Reciprocal Medicare arrangements.

On top of the MBS fee, many specialists will charge an additional fee, known as an ‘out of pocket’ fee.

Private health insurance companies differ in terms of how much of the out of pocket fee they will cover you for, depending on the arrangement they have in place with the private hospital or day surgery. If you’re considering taking private health insurance, this is something to be mindful of.


Prescription medications in Australia can be expensive with costs varying enormously, depending on the medication itself.

The cost of medication prescribed outside a hospital, (for example, at a doctor’s clinic) is subsidised by Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which is available to all people covered by Medicare. For most pharmaceuticals, the patient will need to make an out of pocket contribution, which will vary according to the particular medication prescribed. That means even if you’re covered by your country’s RHCA agreement, you can expect to have to make a financial contribution. Private health insurance policies for foreign workers may also cover part of the cost of prescription medications.

Part or all of the costs of medications administered in hospital may be covered by your country’s RHCA agreement and/or private medical insurance. Again, it’s important to choose your policy carefully as this will determine the cover you receive for any medications. If your country has an RHCA Agreement with Australia, contact Medicare to clarify your cover for medications.

Read more information about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in Australia here.

You Must Have Health Cover Before You Come To Australia

According to the Australian Government, as part of your visa application you will need to provide evidence of adequate health insurance for the duration of your stay in Australia, such as:

  • A certification letter from your health insurer or broker
  • Evidence that you have enrolled with Medicare if your country has a Reciprocal Health Arrangement with Australia (New Zealand and Republic of Ireland passport holders only need to provide the biodata page of their passport to satisfy this requirement)
  • The health insurance standard template letter completed by your insurance provider.

For more information visit

Federal Budget Impacts Businesses Employing Foreign Workers

There are many businesses, right across Australia, taking advantage of the skills and knowledge that foreign workers bring to the workplace. If you’re one of them, you’ll need to be aware of the changes announced in the Federal budget on 9 May… because they will impact you!

In essence, the government is imposing an annual foreign worker levy on your business plus a one-off levy for every foreign worker you employ.

What Does This Mean to You?

Small businesses pay:

  • $1200 per worker for every year the temporary visa worker is under their employment
  • A one-off payment of $3000 for each employee they sponsor for a permanent skilled visa.

Larger businesses, with a turnover of more than $10 million pay:

  • $1800 per worker per year under their employment
  • A one off $5000 levy for permanent skilled visas.


The new levies are expected to raise $1.2 billion over the next four years. This will contribute to a new Skilled Australians Fund which will support around 300,000 apprenticeships and traineeships in high-demand occupations that currently rely on skilled migration.

What Else Do You Need To Know?

The Federal Budget announcement comes hot on the heels of a reform to the 457 Visa program for skilled migrants which came into effect in mid-April 2017.

The reform saw the 457 Visa program replaced by a short-term two-year visa and a medium-term four-year visa with a new, more targeted occupation lists which better aligns with the skills needed in the Australian labour market.

Additionally, the reform lifted charges for Visa applications; with the short-term (two-year) stream increasing from $1,060 to $1,150, and the medium-term (four-year) applications costing $2,400. By the time the reforms are completed in March 2018, further restrictions on permanent residency will come into effect. Read more here.

Questions? We’re here to help

For expert advice on how these changes will impact your business and how you can prepare for a future with all the skilled foreign workers you need, contact your Ayers account manager.

Australia’s 457 Visa Scheme Has Been Abolished – But You Can Still Work Here

If you’re planning to travel to Australia to work, you need to take note of new requirements for skilled migrant visas following the Australian Federal Government’s abolition of the current 457 visa scheme.

On 19 April 2017, the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced that the 457 visa would be replaced by a new scheme that will comprise a short-term two-year visa and a medium-term four-year visa with a reduced occupation list.

Although the new visa scheme was implemented immediately, skilled migrants currently working in Australia on a 457 visa can continue to work under their current conditions. Read more

457 Abolished But Skilled Migrants In Australia Can Work On

Skilled migrants currently working in Australia on a 457 visa can continue to work under their current conditions despite an announcement by the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, that the 457 visa is to be abolished.

However, employers of skilled migrants need to be aware of important changes that will impact employment of new migrants to Australia.

Mr Turnbull announced that the 457 visa program for skilled migrants will be replaced by a new scheme that will comprise a short-term two-year visa and a medium-term four-year visa with a reduced occupation list. He said, “it will be underpinned by more focused occupation lists that are responsive to genuine skill needs and regional variations across Australia”.

Mr Turnbull said the decision to abolish and replace the 457 visa would help protect Australian jobs for Australian workers, “while finding the right balance so businesses can prosper by acquiring the expertise they need”.

Key Reforms

  • Key reforms to the temporary skill shortage visa, include but are not limited to:
    • new, more targeted occupation lists which better align with skill needs in the Australian labour market
    • a requirement for visa applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation
    • a minimum market salary rate which ensures that overseas workers cannot be engaged to undercut Australian workers
    • mandatory labour market testing, unless an international obligation applies
    • capacity for only one onshore visa renewal under the Short-Term stream
    • capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the Medium-Term stream
    • the permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years
    • a non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers
    • strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers
    • the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records, and
      mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.
  • Tightening eligibility requirements for employer sponsored permanent skilled visas, including but not limited to:
    • tightened English language requirements
    • a requirement for visa applicants to have at least three years’ work experience
    • applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application
    • strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers, and
    • employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold1.
  • Concessions for regional Australia will continue to be available:
    • Employers in regional Australia will continue to have access to occupations under the temporary and permanent visas, to reflect their skills needs.
    • Existing permanent visa concessions for regional Australia, such as waiving the nomination fee and providing age exemptions for certain occupations, will be retained. Consideration will be given to expanding the occupations in regional Australia that are exempt from the age requirement.
  • Significantly condensing the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas, including the subclass 457 visa, from 19 April 2017.

Applicants for skilled migrant visas will be required to pay a fee of AU$1,150 for the short-term visa, while medium-term applicants will pay $2,400.

The new visa scheme will begin immediately, with full implementation to be completed by March 2018. Detailed information on changes to occupations is available here.

At Ayers we’ve been assisting Australian businesses to employ skilled migrants to meet their business needs for almost 20 years. We understand the legislation and know how to fast track visa applications. For further advice and assistance contact the experts at Ayers. Telephone: 1300 767 391


Ten Top Tips to Keep Your Payroll Under Control

The topic of award wages and fair work agreements is hot on the political agenda right now and Fair Work Australia has been cracking down on organisations that fail to remunerate their employees appropriately.

While there are some organisations in Australia that go out of their way to operate in breach of Australia’s employment legislation, the majority are more likely to be doing so unknowingly. Regardless, the consequences can be costly and damaging to your brand’s reputation.

There’s no doubt that navigating the ever-changing world of payroll legislation is complex – especially if payroll management is just one of many responsibilities you have in your organisation.

To help you along the way, here are a few important steps you can take to minimise the risk of breaching our employment legislation.

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Dreaming of Life in Australia? Here’s What You’ll Need to Know

Australia is a great place to holiday and it can be just as much fun working and living here as well. But as with any country, there are a few things you’ll need to know about, and prepare for, before you pack your bags – especially if you’re bringing the kids! Read more

Australia’s Digital Economy Demands International Skills

Australia’s growing digital economy presents a massive opportunity for skilled workers from around the world who are keen to work here.

It’s expected to grow significantly over the coming years, fuelled by emerging disruptive technologies and their potential commercial applications across professions and industries: 3D printing in manufacturing, drones in the construction industry and driverless vehicles on mining sites to name a few. Read more

A beginner’s guide to Business Development

You know your business and clients’ best, you understand what works, the areas you need to improve on and what success feels like. But sometimes, brushing up on the ‘business development fundamentals’ reminds us of the small things we forget to do when we’re caught up in the everyday grind. So here are our ‘beginners’ tips for business development.

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A contractor’s guide to self-promotion in 2017

Being a contractor bears many similarities to running your own small business. Your success is determined by your ability to sell your skills to prospective clients and recruiters (and your ability to manage your personal admin – but that’s another story).

Whether you’re a season pro or the new kid on the block, you can’t take your foot off the gas when seeking your next employment opportunity. To enjoy a thriving 2017, we recommend you follow these simple steps to help market your contractor services:
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