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It pays to know your healthcare rights overseas

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About PossesstheWorld

We are Possess the World, a couple of empty nesters travelling the world slowly, avoiding tour groups and having our gap years a bit late; we hope to inspire you to do the same. You can read about us on our blog


Australia has a range of Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with other countries. This means overseas medical treatment with no fees.

Did you know that you may be able to access some types of health care without fees when you are travelling?

Check which countries have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia before travelling.

Check which countries have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia before travelling. Picture: iStock

Many governments have agreements in place that cover the cost of essential medical treatment required before you are able to return home.

These agreements are known as Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA).

Why do you need to know this?

You should have this information before you travel, so that you do not skip medical treatment due to the fear of high costs, or having to use your travel insurance.

If you take regular medication and need to top up your prescription, a stop in one of the countries below may be the perfect solution.

Read more from Possess the World: Your travel guide to Singapore

It is important to note that RHCA does not replace the need for travel insurance

Sometimes, people working in the healthcare system where you are travelling may not know about RHCA.

For example, we recently needed to see a general practitioner while staying in the United Kingdom. We attended our appointments, collected the required medication and were about to be on our way when we were asked to pay for the appointment and medication.

We were about to pay £200 for these services when we realised that Australia and the UK had an RHCA in place, which the practice manager and staff were unaware of.  A quick look at the internet and all we had to pay was £40 for the medications (a £160 saving). The manager was quite pleased that we were able to supply her with the information and went off to find out more from the NHS about RHCAs. A win all round!

Are you Australian or travelling to Australia?

You need to know this that the Australian Government has RHCAs in place with the following governments:

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • The United Kingdom
  • How can you find out more information about RHCAs?

     If you are from one of the countries above, or an Australian planning to travel to one of these countries, the information you need is here.

    If not, it's best to check with your country's health authority before you travel.

    As always, we recommend that you should discuss any overseas travel with your regular GP. You can also find out more health and travel information on the Possess the World website.

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