Newly-arrived refugee settlers and Medicare

Fact sheet for NSW public hospitals

Large numbers of refugee settlers from Syria and Iraq are continuing to arrive in NSW. All such settlers under the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Migration Program are permanent residents of Australia on arrival, and are eligible for Medicare immediately they arrive.

However, they must attend a specific Medicare office in order to have a Medicare number issued. This can lead to delays, particularly over public holiday periods.

Any such person attending an Emergency Department or other service should not be charged, nor denied service access (such as for emergency care at a public dental clinic).

Administration staff should code the individual as Medicare-eligible, with the Medicare number to follow as soon as it is issued. This will be supplied by the government-funded agency that assists new arrivals to settle.

If a person seeks medical attention at a public hospital prior to enrolling in Medicare, they should be issued with an itemised account, which will be submitted to Medicare once they are enrolled. Eligibility for Medicare will be backdated to the date of service provision. Payment should not be requested at the time of service.

This process will avoid placing newly-arrived refugees in financial hardship in their first few days in Australia.

How to identify newly-arrived refugees

For further information on how to identify newly-arrived refugees, download the pdf fact sheet (1.14 MB) or contact NSW Refugee Health Service on refugeehealth@sswahs.nsw.gov.au or 8778 0770.