The Government is changing the way it will handle its “outbound” services to address concerns about the safety of the thousands of patients and families who travel to and from Australia to access Medicare.
The Government has said it is taking the step to make sure Medicare is available to people with chronic illnesses when the illness makes it unsafe for them to be in the country.
Under the changes, patients who are in a hospital, in a nursing home or a home for the mentally ill will now be eligible to receive Medicare on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of how long they have been overseas.
This change will also apply to those who travel from overseas to the United States or overseas and are deemed “carer” by their Medicare provider.
The changes were announced on Monday.
“As we know that many Australians are facing challenges that make it difficult to manage in the workplace, we know people are sometimes at risk of having their carers and caregivers sent overseas to receive services in the community,” Health Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement.
“These new arrangements mean people can access Medicare for the first time in more than five years when they return to Australia.”‘
The future is better for the people who come here’The changes mean that the first Medicare enrolment in the new year will be from the first day of 2019.
Mr Dutton has also committed to ensuring that people can receive Medicare services when they come back to Australia, whether they are on a bridging visa or not.
“I’m committed to helping the people here, including those who are returning to Australia as a bridged visa holder, to get the care they need,” he said.
“The future for these people is better than when they came here and that’s why this changes will be a great help to them.”
The Government’s decision comes on the back of a decision last year by the Federal Government that it would only accept people who were eligible to be on Medicare before they travelled overseas.
“Australians travelling overseas are not eligible to get Medicare until they have spent at least three months in a community hospital in their home country,” Mr Dutton noted in a press release last year.
“Therefore, we will only accept eligible people who have spent three months overseas, at least six months in another community hospital or hospital for the condition of their illness.”