Homehealth & wellbeingmental healthhow can i access free and confidential medical appointments?

How can I access free and confidential medical appointments?

Did you know that when you turn 15 years of age you are eligible to get your own Medicare card? 

Having a Medicare card of your own means that you have the freedom to independently see a doctor and access healthcare on your terms. 

Plus, with a Medicare of your own, you won’t have to ask your guardian/s to borrow the family Medicare card. And you’re over 14 years of age, your parents/guardians can’t access information about your medical treatment without your consent.

What is a Medicare card?

A Medicare card is a government issued card that you bring to all medical appointments. When you show this card to staff at reception, it lets them know who you are and how much you should pay for your appointment. 

In short, a Medicare card can save you a whole lotta money. With a medicare card, you can:

  • See a bulk billing doctor (more info below)
  • Receive free or cheaper health services from people such as doctors, mental health professionals, specialists, and optometrists
  • You can also get cheaper medicine using your Medicare card if your prescriptions are covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which includes a lot of common medicines. 

In some special situations, you can get your own Medicare card when you’re under 15 years. For more info, call Medicare on 13 20 11 or talk to your doctor about this. 

How do I get my own Medicare card?

Getting your own Medicare card is super easy. You can get one online by following these steps: 

  • Sign in to myGov.
  • Select My card.
  • Select Get a new card and number.
  • Follow the prompts.

If you’re unable to do it online, you can fill out a form and send it through in the post. You can get started with your application here

If you’re a First Nations person without standard identity documents, you can still get a Medicare card by using a referee instead. Find out more about how to do this here

A nurse with her hands clasped in front of her.
What’s ‘bulk billing’? Why do I need it?

‘Bulk billing’ means that your appointment is free. 

If your doctor ‘bulk bills’, it means that they accept your Medicare card as payment for the appointment, so you don’t have to pay anything extra.

Some clinics offer bulk billing for everyone. Others determine bulk billing on a case by case basis. 

  • If you don’t have an income or you’re on a Health Care Card, most doctors will bulk bill you.
  • Before you make an appointment, ask if they offer bulk billing.
  • You will need a Medicare card to access bulk billing.

If you’re a First Nations person, you’re entitled to a free check-up once a year.

What if I can’t get bulk billing?

If your doctor doesn’t offer bulk billing, ask how much it will cost, and find out if some of it can be covered by Medicare. 

At some medical centres, you have to make a ‘gap’ payment. The ‘gap’ refers to the left over amount you have to pay when Medicare doesn’t cover the whole cost of the appointment. For example: you might need to pay $40 and the rest is covered by Medicare. Or you might pay the full amount and have a portion of the fee refunded from Medicare.

Most refunds are paid directly into the bank account connected to your Medicare card. You can find more info about making a Medicare claim here

How can I keep my medical appointments private?

Depending on your situation, you might be more comfortable with a duplicate card or having your own Medicare card.

Duplicate card
  • A duplicate card is when you have your own Medicare card but are still listed on your family Medicare card. 
  • If you have a duplicate, your guardian/s will still be able to see that you have visited a doctor on their records, but they won’t be able to access details about your appointment or treatment. 
Your own medicare card
  • This is the most confidential option
  • If you have your own Medicare card (not a duplicate), then your guardian/s will not have access to any records.
  • Learn more about your healthcare rights and privacy as a young person here

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which Rosie has been created, the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung people of the Kulin Nation, and pay our respects to elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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