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Blog: how to get a medicare card

13 Sep 2018
Not sure what bulk billing is, or why it can be a good idea to get your own Medicare card? Find out here.

Do you have a Medicare card?

This green piece of plastic is your golden ticket to seeing doctors and other services for free (or low-cost). With your own card you'll be able to control who you share your appointment history with. If you’re 15 or older and you live in Australia or Norfolk Island, you can probably get your own Medicare card.

Here, we’ll give you the lowdown about what Medicare is and the simple steps to get yourself a card. It’ll be helpful if you:

  • don’t have a card and want to get one
  • are on your family’s card and want your own
  • just want to learn about how it all works.

But first: what is Medicare?

Medicare is Australia’s public health system. It gives people cheaper (and often free!) doctor’s visits and medicines, and lets you go to public hospitals as a public patient.

What is a Medicare card?

A Medicare card is a plastic card with your Medicare number on it that proves you’re covered by Medicare. You can have multiple people, like a family or a couple, on the one card. If you're on a joint card then other people on the account can see your appointment. But they can't see why you're having the appointment, or what you talk about.

What is bulking billing?

Bulk billing is when your doctor lets you use your Medicare card to cover the cost of your appointment. If your doctor doesn’t bulk bill, they’ll charge you directly and you’ll get money back from Medicare later. You can find a list of doctors and clinics that bulk bill.

What is a gap?

If Medicare doesn’t cover all of the cost of your appointment, this is the amount that’s left that you have to pay. It’s good to ask if you’ll have to pay a gap when you book your appointment so you know what to expect.

Why should I get one?

There are a bunch of advantages to getting your own Medicare card:

  • You’ll be able to get support for your own wellbeing – like going to a psychologist or getting a sexual health check up – with less worry about who can see that you've had the appointment.
  • You’ll get a sense of independence having a card of your own.
  • The government only issues up to three copies of the one card, so if there are four or more people in your family, getting your own card will be more convenient.
  • A Medicare card can also count as ID evidence for all sorts of things, like applying for a passport.

How do I get my own Medicare card?

It’s pretty simple to get your Medicare card. Just follow these steps:

1.  Fill out this form.

2. Bring it in to a Centrelink service centre, along with ID (your birth certificate, driver’s licence or learner’s permit, or passport).

3. Wait for Centrelink to mail you your card.

If you don’t have one already, it’s also worth checking if you’re eligible for a healthcare card or low-income healthcare card. These cards are for anyone who earns under a certain amount, or is on a Centrelink benefit. They count as concession for things like public transport, and mean the government will pay more of your health services. Find out more about concessions.