For GPs relocating from the UK to Australia or New Zealand, you will have questions on the differences between the two health care systems. We have outlined how the health care system works in Australia and New Zealand.
Australia GP Healthcare System
Medicare is Australia’s universal health care and insurance programme. It guarantees Australian citizens access to a wide range of GP and hospital services at no or low cost.
Australia’s Medicare system is funded by the local taxpayers. Medicare is open to Australia citizens and permanent residents and those from a Reciprocal country. Once you enrol in Medicare you are issued with a Medicare card which allows you to access medical services, hospital treatment and prescription medicines.
The Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) lists the medical services covered by Medicare either in full or partially covered. The Pharmaceutical Benefits System (PBS) reduces the cost of medication to patients. As Medicare doesn’t cover all Medicare services, many patients choose to take out private healthcare insurance.
Private vs Bulk GP Billing
Patients in a GP practice are either bulk or privately billed. Bulk billing is where the total fee is charged to Medicare with no cost to the patient. A bulk billing GP consultation will be billed with an item number which will correspond to the scheduled fee. This is what you as a GP can claim for the consultation. Private billing is where the patient is charged but the partial fee can be claimed from Medicare with a ‘gap fee’ paid by the patient. Private billing consultations are set by the practice or the individual doctor.
This will affect how you are paid working as. GP in Australia. You will receive a percentage of billings (between 60 – 70%) Your income will be very good however dependant on the number of patients you see and the complexity of those patients.
New Zealand Health System
The Public Health system in New Zealand is funded by taxpayers. Essential health care is free for all NZ residents and those with a visa for 2 years and longer. As a UK GP there is a reciprocal agreement between the two countries to access some healthcare services.
There are 3 key sectors in New Zealand; District Health Boards, Primary Health care and Health organisations. DHBs are government funded and are responsible generally for secondary health, PHOs assist with primary health services including general practice and community health services. There is also Accident and Compensation Corporation (ACC) which is a government run personal injury scheme which helps to pay for medical and treatment fees which are caused by an accident.
General Practice in New Zealand
General practice in New Zealand are privately run and set their own fees for consultations. The fees must remain within a threshold agreed by the DHBs and PHOs and the level of co-payment is determined by the practice. The cost of the visit will be lower if you’re enrolled as the NZ government subsidises the fee for enrolled patients. Some practices join a Very Low Cost Access (VLCA) programme run by the local PHO. This means they can keep their fees low due to extra funding.
Working as a GP in New Zealand
As a GP working in New Zealand you will initially be on an employment contract paid a salaried rate. This will come with additional benefits such as paid leave, sick leave and sometimes relocation assistance and paid medical practising fees and insurance. We find that our GPs settle in well into life in New Zealand, and enjoy that enviable work / life balance in an enjoyable patient setting.
For more information on living and working as a GP in Australia or New Zealand please do get in touch.