Health & insurance
Before You Go
Health insurance is essential for all travellers. You may prefer a policy that pays doctors or hospitals directly rather than requiring you to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later make sure you keep all documentation. Check that the policy covers ambulances and emergency medical evacuations by air.
If you're travelling to Australia from overseas, visit a physician four to eight weeks before departure. Ask your doctor for an International Certificate of Vaccination (aka the 'yellow booklet'), which will list the vaccinations you've received.
Upon entering Australia, you'll be required to fill out a 'travel history card' detailing any visits to Ebola-affected regions within the last 21 days.
If you're entering Australia within six days of having stayed overnight or longer in a yellow-fever-infected country, you'll need proof of yellow-fever vaccination. For a full list of these countries visit Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (www.cdc.gov/travel).
The World Health Organization (www.who.int) recommends that all travellers should be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and polio, as well as hepatitis B, regardless of their destination. While Australia has high levels of childhood vaccination coverage, outbreaks of these diseases do occur.
- acetaminophen (paracetamol) or aspirin
- adhesive or paper tape
- antibiotics (also bring any prescriptions)
- antidiarrhoeal drugs (eg loperamide)
- antihistamines (for hayfever and allergic reactions)
- anti-inflammatory drugs (eg ibuprofen)
- antibacterial ointment in case of cuts or abrasions
- bandages, gauze, gauze rolls
- DEET-containing insect repellent for the skin
- iodine tablets or water filter (for water purification)
- oral rehydration salts
- permethrin-containing insect spray for clothing, tents and bed nets
- pocket knife
- scissors, safety pins, tweezers
- steroid cream or cortisone (for allergic rashes)
There's a wealth of travel health advice on the internet: Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) is a good place to start.
World Health Organization (www.who.int/ith) Publishes International Travel and Health, revised annually and available free online.
MD Travel Health (www.redplanet.travel/mdtravelhealth) Provides complete travel-health recommendations for every country, updated daily.
Government travel-health websites include the following:
Availability & Cost of Healthcare
Like the rest of Australia, Tasmania has an excellent healthcare system: a mixture of privately run medical clinics and hospitals alongside public hospitals funded by the Australian government. There are also excellent specialised public health facilities for women and children in major centres.
You'll find general practitioners (GPs) working in most Tasmanian towns and available for prebooked appointments, and hospitals with emergency departments in Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Latrobe.
Australia’s Medicare system (www.medicareaustralia.gov.au) covers Australian residents for some healthcare costs and emergency care, with reciprocity for citizens of New Zealand, Belgium, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Slovenia and Ireland.
The Medicare system covers Australian residents for some health-care costs. Visitors from countries with which Australia has a reciprocal health-care agreement – New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia, Norway and the UK – are eligible for benefits specified under the Medicare program. Online, see www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/medicare. But even if you're not covered by Medicare, a short consultation with a local GP will usually only set you back around $70.
Painkillers, antihistamines for allergies and skincare products are widely available at chemists throughout Tasmania. You may find that medications available over the counter in some countries are only available in Australia by prescription. These include the oral contraceptive pill, some medications for asthma and all antibiotics.
In Tasmania’s remote locations, there could be a significant delay in emergency services reaching you in the event of serious accident or illness. An increased level of self-reliance and preparation is essential. Also take a comprehensive first-aid kit that is appropriate for the activities planned, and ensure that you have adequate means of communication. Tasmania’s sometimes-limited mobile-phone coverage can mean that additional radio communication is important for remote areas.
Tap water in Tasmania is safe to drink, right across the state (and is the best tasting in Australia!).