Travelling to Australia can be daunting enough without the added worry of where to get your diabetic supplies. Before I left England, I wrote a post outlining my confusion around how to get a Medicare Card and receive cheaper prescriptions. This blog will give you a simple 3 step process and a piece of mind that I didn’t have before arriving in Australia. I’ll also give you a rough price that you should expect to pay for your meds.
Medicare is essentially the Australian equivalent of the NHS, with the exception that the NHS will issue medication for free, whereas the former is simply a “discount membership card” if you will allowing you to save money on your prescription drugs.
As a UK citizen, you are entitled to join Medicare under the reciprocal agreement between us and the Aussies.
How much money will you save with a Medicare Card?
I can only speak for the medication that I am on, though the percentages will be similar I am sure for other insulin / blood glucose control products.
Typically 100 Freestyle Lite strips will cost you anywhere between $50 & $70 without a Medicare card – with one, just $35.
The savings are even better for Novorapid & Levemir. For 5 packs (5 pens in each pack = 25 pens), expect to pay around $150 without cover, or just $35 with a card.
To put things simply, your prescription will either cost around $350 without or $100 with a Medicare Card.
How to apply for a Medicare Card**:
It really as easy as 1.2.3 to enrol into Medicare and get your membership number. I did steps 1-3 in less than 30 minutes.
- Walk into any Medicare centre. There are hundreds across Australia & you can find your closest one using this link. You’ll need a couple of things before you go. Your passport & proof of visa (Australian bank account details are handy but you can apply for one without this)
- Complete the Medicare Application form. you can also download one here & come pre-prepared.
- You’ll be issued with a temporary Medicare Card. You can now get discount on your prescriptions and save your money for the fun things like dining out or travelling the country!
You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned the screw on needle tops. These are not covered by Medicare & you need to register as a member to Diabetes Australia to receive these for free, else you’ll be paying $30 for a pack of 100. Some chemists won’t sell the needle caps without a card, so be prepared for a little hunt around, though it won’t be long before you find one that is ok with it.
I hope this blog post has clarified a few details for any diabetics concerned about getting a prescription down under. If you have any questions / thoughts, pop them in the comment box below & I’ll get back to you asap.
** All hyperlinks were checked and corrected as of 03/10/2013. As the forms are updated regularly, links often change and may result in errors, if this is the case, please message me below and I’ll amend it asap.