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Medicare and other benefits

5-minute read

Key facts

  • If you have a Medicare card, you can access a range of health care services for free or at a lower cost.
  • These include medical services, hospital treatments and prescription medicines.
  • The Australian government also provides other financial support benefits to Australian families. These include financial help with childcare, parental payments, and family tax benefits.
  • Payments are made based on financial need and a range of other criteria. You can check your eligibility for these payments on the Services Australia web pages, listed below.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is Australia’s universal health insurance scheme. It provides access to medical and hospital services for all Australian residents, as well as some visitors to Australia.

Medicare covers:

  • free or subsidised treatment by health care professionals such as doctors, specialists, and participating allied health professionals such as optometrists and dentists
  • free of charge treatment and accommodation for public Medicare patients in a public hospital
  • part payment for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital

What other benefits are available?

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) provides approved prescription medicines at a lower cost to Australian residents.

The Australian government provides other support for families who meet certain eligibility criteria. These include:

Newborn and parental leave payments

When you have a baby or adopt a child, there are 2 types of payments available. You are only able to claim one type of payment per child:

  • Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement is available to eligible parents. It is an increase to your Family Tax Benefit Part A payment when you have a baby or adopt a child.
  • Parental Leave Pay is a payment for up to 18 weeks to help eligible parents take time off work, to care for a newborn or recently adopted child.

If you’re eligible, Dad and Partner Pay, is also available. This payment can be for up to 2 weeks while you care for your new child.

Visit Services Australia to find out if you are eligible for the payments.

Family Tax Benefit

The Family Tax Benefit is a 2-part payment that helps you with the cost of raising a child. The payment is usually available if you have a child aged 19 or under and you meet the eligibility income test.

For more information on eligibility and claiming, visit Services Australia.

In order to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement and Child Care Benefit, your child needs to be up to date with their vaccinations, based on the Australian immunisation schedule or have a medical exemption if they are unable to be vaccinated.

Child Care Subsidy

A range of payments and services are available to help families with the costs of child care. To be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, your child must meet certain criteria as well as be either immunised, on an immunisation catch up schedule, or exempt from immunisation. You can find details of your child’s immunisation status on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.

Find child care services at using their tool Find Child Care.

Payments for families

The Australian government provides a range of additional payments for families and services that help with the cost of your children’s education and health care.

For more information visit Services Australia.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2022

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