Australians, New Zealanders, most permanent residents, and some visitors can get Medicare.

Visit the Services Australia website to learn how to enrol in Medicare.

Most of our hospitals and health centres bulk bill for outpatient and emergency treatment. This means you won’t pay for these medical treatments.

Most private treatments are covered by Medicare and private health insurers. However, you may have to pay out of pocket costs if you’re treated as a private patient in a private or public hospital.

This can include costs for:

  • doctors or other health care providers
  • hospital charges like accommodation and theatre fees.

Travel and accommodation

If you had to travel a long way to get to hospital, you may be able to get help with travel costs. This is called the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme.

Talk to your local health care centre, or see the Queensland Government web page about the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme.

If you're visiting Australia

Some of your treatment in Australia might be free if your home country has a health care agreement with us.

Depending on where you're from, you might need to enrol in Medicare to get free treatment.

See the Services Australia site for more information on reciprocal health care arrangements.

Using your private health insurance

If you have private health insurance, you can choose to be treated as a private patient in our public hospitals. Medicare can still cover some of the costs of your treatment.

Find out more about using your private health insurance.

If you're staying in hospital for a long time

If you can get Medicare, you can stay in the hospital for up to 35 days without having to pay. After that, you may need to pay some fees. This depends on the type of care you're getting.

Acute care

If you need acute care in a hospital, there are no fees. We'll check your acute care needs every day, and will issue an Acute Care Certificate if you need one. This is a certificate that shows that you need hospital care.

Non-acute care

If you stay in any hospital for 35 days or more and you're not getting acute care, you're considered a long-stay patient. Many long-stay patients are people who are waiting for a place in a nursing home.

Long-stay patients pay a daily accommodation fee. This is to go towards your care. The Federal Government sets those fees.

You’re a long-stay patient if you:

  • have been in any hospital for more than 35 days
  • don't have a valid Acute Care Certificate.

The 35-day period starts on the day you're admitted to hospital. Fees apply from the 36th day.

If you've been discharged from hospital for 7 days or less, and come back to hospital we count that as part of the 35 days.

The long stay fee is indexed against the aged pension. Fee increases occur in line with pension increases. This is the same for self-funded retirees.

Ask your nurse, social worker or ward clerk about long-stay fees.

Last updated: September 2023