So I’ve been getting a lot of questions around this, whether the foreign partner will be eligible for Medicare.
Let’s begin with a brief summary of what Medicare does: it’s the public healthcare system that provides a lot of the essential yet basic services such as going to the doctors, getting your eyes checked out and going to hospital. Of course there are limitations but basically it’s what Australians know and come to enjoy as ‘free healthcare’. For a more detailed explanation of how Medicare works, you can visit their site here: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/medicare
Now who gets Medicare?
All Australian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for Medicare but wait, certain visa holders also can get Medicare. In fact, you might be eligible for Medicare if you are:
- a permanent visa holder (including returning residents)
- an applicant for a permanent visa (some exclusions apply) who has the right to work in Australia or who has a parent, spouse or child who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen (who is an Australian resident)
- a holder of certain temporary visa
- a temporary visa holder who lives in a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia.
But guess what? You can only get Medicare if you are living in Australia. This sounds legit right?
So what does this all mean? It means that there’s another huge advantage of applying for your partner visa onshore rather than in your home country.
Going back to the eligibility requirement, if your partner is in Australia at the time that they apply for a partner visa application, they’ll fall under the 2nd category: ” an applicant for a permanent visa (some exclusions apply) who has the right to work in Australia or who has a parent, spouse or child who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen (who is an Australian resident)”
This is because when you apply for a partner visa, you’re actually lodging 2 visa applications at one time: the temporary and the permanent visa application. So as an applicant for a permanent resident visa, your foreign partner (if they are living in Australia when they apply) may be eligible for Medicare!
How to apply for Medicare on a partner visa
In order to apply for Medicare you’ll need the following things:
- a completed Medicare enrolment form
- travel-related documents (like passports or ImmiCards) for everyone that needs to be covered by Medicare. This is to prove identities.
- any information you have received from DIBP that will help to confirm the status of your visa.
Documents to confirm visa status
After lodging your partner visa application you’ll receive a few emails in return.
You’ll receive a receipt for your payment and an acknowledgement of lodging a valid application. It’s the letter acknowledging that your permanent residency visa application has been lodged that you must take with you to complete Medicare enrolment.
- the Medicare enrolment forms
- Proof of identity; and
- The letter of acknowledgement
to your local Medicare office (located here) to be processed.
They’ll input your data there and then and will give you a little receipt looking piece of paper with your Medicare number printed on it. This is a temporary card and the physical one will be sent to your address in 2 weeks time.
You can use the temporary card immediately!
What other documents can I use to prove visa status?
For whatever reason that you can’t locate your letter of acknowledgement you can also provide the following to demonstrate your visa status:
- a letter (received by post or email) confirming your visa. The letter must have the names of everyone in your family on it.
- a print-out, screen grab, or email from VEVO.
I’ve had some clients experience this and by no means is this representative of all experiences but some clients have been refused from enrolling in Medicare.
In fact, the refusals seem high enough for the rumours to go around on the internet that foreign partners aren’t eligible for Medicare.
The truth is, your local Medicare office might not be used to dealing with temporary visa holders or permanent residency applicants. Because this is not in their usual routine you might be met with some resistance BUT just because they haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to it.
I suggest you either go to a bigger city Medicare office or if you do encounter someone who flat out refuses you and states that you need to get the visa granted before enrolling, ask to speak to their supervisor. But always be polite about it!