Health checkup for dummies
August 23, 2009 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Do I need health insurance to visit a G.P.?

I'm 18. In all my years, I've only been to the doctor with the family, usually for injections. Now I need to see a G.P. in private and have no idea what paper-pushing is involved. I know my family has health insurance for me, but I would rather avoid having to go through all that rigmarole. Will the doctor's computer systems explode if I put it on the plastic or pay in cash and say I don't have health insurance? If I pay upfront like this, can I forget about it as soon as I walk out the door or do I need to push some papers around? I'm in South Australia if it matters. To be clear, I have absolutely no idea how the health system works. On the plus side, I've had good health for the past 17 years so I didn't need to!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Hi, I'm in South Australia. If you're not going to a bulk billing clinic (in which case your appointment is free), you might have to pay $40 or so on the way out of the surgery, $25+ of which you will later get back by making a claim through Medicare. You do have a Medicare card, don't you? Because it's your right as a citizen to have one.

Paperwork for all this is also very simple.
posted by Wolof at 7:47 PM on August 23, 2009

Walk into your local Medicare office with some id - birth certificate, passport, drivers licence - and request a Medicare card in your own name, and request that you be taken off your parents Medicare card. You can phone this number: 132 011 for info on how to get your own Medicare card.

You should be given a new Medicare number on the spot.

Take this number (or the card when it arrives) into your doctors office and enjoy your consultation. The doctors surgery will either process your Medicare claim on the spot and only charge you the difference, or you can pay cash/card and take the receipt to your local medicare office for reimbursement. If you don't want your parents to know about the consultation, get your own card and number before the GP visit

Private health insurance has nothing to do with visits to a GP.

Memail me if you need more info. I once worked for Medicare.
posted by Kerasia at 7:51 PM on August 23, 2009

Or, if paying for the consult does not bother you, you absolutely can just turn up and say you have no insurance and aren't using medicare. That's what tourists do, so the computer system can definitely handle it.
posted by jacalata at 9:44 PM on August 23, 2009

Kerasia is correct.

To explain further: Medicare is a government scheme which subsidises the cost of doctors visits. "Bulk billing" clinics keeps their consultation fees low enough that the government subsidy can cover them completely. Non-bulk billing clinics charge a bit more, which means you'll have to pay the difference between the fee and the subsidy (maybe $10 or $20).

Your parents' health insurance isn't really relevant here - maybe it helps cover them pay the extra $10 or $20, but mostly it's there in case you get really sick and a lot of expensive treatment. Plenty of people in Australia get by with no private health insurance at all.

The best thing to do is to follow Kerasia's instructions and get your own Medicare card. This allows you to receive the government subsidy on your own. It won't affect the insurance you have through your parents.

But if you're in a hurry, you can go straight to a doctor and pay by cash, eftpos or credit card. It might cost you $50 or $60 for a basic consultation. If you can afford to pay, no questions will be asked, no computers will explode, and your parents don't need to know.

Finally, there are lots of reasons why you might want to see a doctor in private, but an obvious one is sexual health - contraception, pregnancy, STDs and the like. If that's the case, you might want to have a look at SHineSA, South Australia's network of sexual health services. You can visit their clinics for just $10 (a year!) or call their sexual health line for free advice.

Good on you for taking care of your own health.
posted by embrangled at 10:19 PM on August 23, 2009

Gah, I have typing-itis. Make that:

Your parents' health insurance isn't really relevant here - maybe it helps cover them pay the extra $10 or $20, but mostly it's there in case you get really sick and need a lot of expensive treatment. Plenty of people in Australia get by with no private health insurance at all.
posted by embrangled at 10:24 PM on August 23, 2009

Nobody seems to have told you what private health insurance is for. It's for hospital cover. So if you get sick/injured and need to go to hospital, you'd get to choose your own doctor. Or go to a private hospital.

Extras cover is an optional part of private health insurance that your parents may or may not have. That's the part for glasses, physio and dental and all the more "interesting" stuff.

All health insurances in Australia cover you for ambulances in total. If you're on your parents private health cover , you will never pay for an ambulance.
posted by taff at 3:55 AM on August 24, 2009

Oh, and all this is based on the fact that you are entitled to medicare. You are in a different category if you are not entitled. If you're a citizen/permanent resident of Australia and live here permanently, then don't worry, you're entitled to medicare.
posted by taff at 3:58 AM on August 24, 2009

« Older But I've almost beat Peggle!...   |   International calling fail Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.