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Is this the end of free healthcare for backpackers?

September 17th, 2018 | | industry

Calls to end free healthcare for tourists after revelations foreigners’ medical treatments are costing taxpayers $30 MILLION a year.

  • NSW Health Minister wants to crack down on free healthcare for tourists 
  • Calling to introduce mandatory health insurance for all visitors to the country
  • NSW taxpayers foot a $30 million bill in unpaid medical expenses for foreigners
  • But NSW tourism body believes ban could put off tourists from visiting Australia

The New South Wales Health Minister is calling for a crackdown on free healthcare for visitors to Australia. NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard has revealed healthcare for tourists costs state taxpayers upwards $30 million a year.

‘Every time an uninsured visitor does not pay for their treatment in one of our public hospitals, taxpayers foot the bill,’ Hazzard claimed in a statement today. It is thought that more than 14,000 Medicare-ineligible patients are admitted to NSW public hospitals annually. Mr Hazzard is attempting to get his state and federal counterparts on board to implement mandatory health insurance for all travelers on temporary visas. Under current legislation, only selected visas require foreigners to take out medical insurance. These include student and some working visas. However it isn’t necessary to take out medical insurance in order to be granted a visitor or business visitor visa for Australia.

It is thought that more than 14,000 Medicare-ineligible patients are admitted to NSW public hospitals annually. This comes at a cost of $100 million — with about $70 million paid for by the patient or their insurer, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Treatments include overnight hospital stays, prostheses, radiology and specialists for visitors who mostly come from China, followed by India, Fiji, Tonga and Brazil. Other states have experienced similar problems with unpaid medical bills. Mr Hazzard is attempting to get his state and federal counterparts on board to implement mandatory health insurance for all tourists and visitors. In previous years state health ministers have also considered reforms including banning foreigners from returning to the country if they have outstanding hospital bills.

Source: Daily Mail

Sourced by Mike Barrow