About Medicare

Medicare is Australia’s universal health care system.

We help Australians with the cost of their health care.

We started out on 1 February 1984 to help pay for out of hospital health services.

Read about the history of Medicare on the National Museum of Australia website.

Australians can enrol in Medicare. Find out how to enrol.

How Medicare works

When you enrol in Medicare, we pay some or all of the costs of your necessary health care.

Keep in mind, we don’t pay for all medical services.

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) lists the services we pay for. The Department of Health manages the MBS. 

Read more about what’s covered.

If your doctor bulk bills, we pay the cost directly to the doctor. This means you won’t have to pay anything. Read more about how bulk billing works.

You’ll need to pay for your appointment if your GP doesn’t bulk bill. You may be able to claim some of this money back from us.

We also help to make some medicines more affordable for you through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Read more about Medicine and Medicare.

If you have high medical costs, there are ways to help keep your costs under control. Read more about help with medical costs.

Medicare funding

The Australian government pays for Medicare through the Medicare levy. Working Australians pay the Medicare levy as part of their income tax.

High income earners who don’t have an appropriate level of private hospital insurance also pay a Medicare levy surcharge.

To find out more, read about Medicare and tax.

Page last updated: 19 March 2019