Information for residents of Norfolk Island

From 1 July 2016, the Australian Government will integrate Norfolk Island with the mainland tax and social security systems, including access to Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Page last updated: 07 December 2020

Below are some frequently asked questions on health and aged care. You can also find some information on health and aged care services for Norfolk Island on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.

For more information on the Norfolk Island reforms please email Norfolk Island reform.


What is Medicare?

Medicare provides payments and services that can help people use health care services or buy medicines.Top of page

For example, Medicare usually covers:
  • free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists and, in specific circumstances, dentists and other allied health practitioners;
  • free treatment and accommodation as a public patient in a public hospital;
  • 75 per cent of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private admitted patient in a public or private hospital. This does not include hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines;
  • part of the cost of many types of medicines. Typically they cost much more than the price you pay. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) can reduce the cost of medicine; and
  • some health care services in certain countries.
For more information on Medicare you can refer to the Medicare page on the Department of Human Services website.

Will there be any changes to the health arrangements on Norfolk Island from 1 July 2016?

The current arrangements for health care and the Norfolk Island Health Care Levy will continue until Medicare commences on 1 July 2016.

After 1 July 2016, Norfolk Island residents will have access to health systems in the same manner as other Australians, which includes access to Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and private health insurance.

Do I have to pay the Medicare levy and the Norfolk Island Health Care levy?

No. The Norfolk Island Health Care levy will cease on 30 June 2016. The Medicare levy will commence on 1 July 2016.

For details on the Medicare levy please visit the Medicare Levy Surcharge section of the Private Health website.

Who pays for a medical evacuation (medivac) to the mainland?

The Australian Government will pay for emergency transport to the mainland for medical reasons, similar to arrangements in other remote island communities such as Christmas Island.

What is the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is an Australian Government program that benefits all eligible Australians by subsidising medicines. The PBS provides timely, reliable and affordable access to cost-effective and high quality medicines for Australians. Under the PBS, the government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions. Most of the listed medicines are dispensed by pharmacists, and used by patients at home.

The PBS Schedule lists all of the medicines available to be dispensed to patients at a Government-subsidised price. The Schedule is part of the wider PBS managed by the Department of Health and administered by Department of Human Services.

There are arrangements in place to help ensure medicines are affordable for all consumers. The PBS safety net protects patients and their families requiring a large number of PBS items. The PBS co payment is the amount you pay towards the cost of your PBS medicine. Many PBS medicines cost a lot more than you actually pay as a co-payment.

For more information on the PBS visit the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme website.

When does the PBS begin?

Access to medicines under the PBS will commence at the same time Medicare does. Once a pharmacy on Norfolk Island becomes an approved supplier of PBS medicines, most medicines listed in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits will be accessible by eligible Norfolk Islanders. Top of page

Will all medicines on the PBS be available on Norfolk Island?

Generally yes. Once a pharmacy on Norfolk Island becomes an approved supplier of PBS medicines, most medicines listed in the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits will be accessible by eligible Norfolk Islanders. Some more specialised PBS medicines (such as chemotherapy drugs) may only become available on Norfolk Island once the necessary specialist medical services can be accessed. There are also medicines supplied under other programs (such as the Life Saving Drugs Program) which may also become available to eligible Norfolk Islanders once the required specialist arrangements are in place.

Do I need a Medicare card to obtain PBS medicines?

Generally, yes. Holders of Concession Cards and Veteran's Entitlement Cards should bring their Medicare card and other relevant cards when they visit a pharmacy for prescription medication. PBS eligibility also extends to certain foreigners, i.e. nationals of countries which have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia. These countries are the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Malta, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Belgium and Slovenia.

More information about reciprocal agreements is available on the Department of Human Services website.

Should I buy private health insurance?

The decision to purchase private health insurance is a personal choice. In Australia, Medicare provides for universal access to affordable, high-quality health care for all citizens and permanent residents. However, there are some health services that are not covered by Medicare. Private health insurance can give you more health care options and help to cover the cost of some items which aren't covered by Medicare.

People who are Medicare eligible can choose to take out Australian private health insurance with registered private health insurers. Benefits and premiums vary between health insurers, so if you are exploring options it is important to compare policies.

To make the best decision about private health insurance, you need access to clear and impartial information. That's why the Australian Government has established the Private Health website—an impartial source of information on every aspect of private health insurance in Australia.

Which health insurers can I choose from if I live on Norfolk Island?

All Australian registered private health insurers will have products available for purchase from 1 July 2016. A list of insurers is available from the Private Health website.

While most insurers are open to all Australians some health insurers are only open to people from a specific industry or other defined group, these are referred to as restricted membership insurers.

The Private Health website can assist you in making choices about private health insurance products. For the purposes of using this site Norfolk lslanders should select NSW as their state of residence.

Are there any Government incentives to buy private health insurance?

Yes, there are three main incentives to buy private health insurance:
  1. The Australian Government provides an income tested rebate, (the Australian Government Rebate on private health insurance) to help people meet the cost of private health insurance.
  2. Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) is a financial loading on private health insurance hospital cover. It is designed to encourage people to take out hospital cover earlier in life, and to maintain their cover. If you wish to purchase private health insurance hospital cover but don’t want to pay a LHC loading, you need to buy hospital cover with an Australian registered health insurer before your LHC deadline. The LHC deadline for Norfolk Islanders is 1 July following their 31st birthday or, if they are over the age of 31 on 1 July 2016, the LHC deadline will be 1 July 2017. If you purchase hospital cover after your LHC deadline you will have to pay a LHC loading of 2% more on your hospital insurance premium for each year you are aged over 30 when you first take out hospital cover. For example, someone aged 45 when they first purchase hospital cover would have to pay a LHC loading of 30% on top of their hospital insurance premium. They would have to pay this loading for 10 years before it is removed.
  3. The Medicare levy surcharge is a tax on people that earn over a certain amount and don’t have private health hospital cover. The Medicare levy surcharge is in addition to the normal Medicare Levy.
More information about incentives can be found on the Government's Private Health website. Top of page

Will I need to serve a waiting period when I start a new Australian private health insurance policy, or increase my level of cover?*

People will usually have to serve a waiting period when they start a new Australian private health insurance policy or increase their level of cover.

People who currently have Australian private health insurance can change insurers for similar cover without having to re-serve waiting periods.

People with Overseas Visitor Health Cover may be required to serve waiting periods when they take up an Australian private health insurance policy.

Waiting periods can be waived at the discretion of the private health insurer. For more information, please contact your existing or intended private health insurer to discuss potential waiting periods.

Information about private health insurance waiting periods is available on the Private Health website.

What is the Hearing Services Program?

The Australian Government Hearing Services Program (the program) supports access to quality hearing services for eligible people with hearing loss in order to remove barriers to participation in education, entering the workforce and engaging with their community. The range of fully or partially subsidised hearing services available includes:
  • a comprehensive hearing assessment performed by a qualified hearing practitioner
  • help with your hearing loss and communication needs, including support and rehabilitation services
  • access to a wide range of high quality hearing devices, if required and
  • optional maintenance support. Repairs and batteries to support a hearing device can be received for a small fee.

Am I eligible to receive subsidised hearing services?

Eligibility for the program is set out in legislation. Below is a summary which can be used as a guide for applying for services under the program.

Voucher component of the program

An Australian resident on Norfolk Island 21 years or older is eligible for the voucher component of the program if they are:
  • a Pensioner Concession Card Holder
  • receiving Sickness Allowance from Centrelink
  • the holder of a Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Gold Card issued for all conditions
  • the holder of a DVA White Card issued for specific conditions that include hearing loss
  • a dependent of a person in one of the above categories
  • a member of the Australian Defence Force1 or
  • part of the Australian Government funded Disability Employment Services (DES) – Disability Management Service and you are referred by your Disability Employment Services case manager.
Voucher services are provided by a network of hearing services providers throughout Australia.

Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the program

Australian residents on Norfolk Island are eligible to receive hearing services through the CSO component of the program if they are diagnosed with permanent hearing loss and are:
  • younger than 26 years
  • an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who is over 50 years
  • an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participant in the Community Development Programme (formerly known as the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) and the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program)
  • an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participant in the former Community Development Employment Projects Program, who received hearing services before 30 June 2013
  • a client who meets voucher program eligibility and has a profound hearing loss or hearing loss and severe communication impairment or
  • a client who meets voucher program eligibility and lives in a listed remote area of Australia.
Australian Hearing is the sole provider of CSO services.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

In addition, National Disability Insurance Scheme participants may access hearing services through the program if referred for services by their National Disability Insurance Agency Planner. Top of page

When does the program begin and how do I access services?

Eligible people will be entitled to receive hearing services from 1 July 2016. Under the voucher component, an Australian resident can approach any contracted hearing services provider.

Australian Hearing, as a voucher service provider and the sole provider of CSO services, is exploring how best to provide hearing services to eligible people on Norfolk Island. You can call the Australian Hearing Customer Service Centre on 1300 262 363 to confirm your eligibility and register interest in an appointment. Alternatively, you can email Australian Hearing.

Where do I get more information about the program?

More information on the program is available on the Office of Hearing Services website, including testing eligibility for the voucher component.
For all enquiries about the program please e-mail Hearing Services at the Department of Health.

Telephone enquiries: please call 1800 500 726
National Relay Service (NRS): please call 1800 555 727
More information can be found on the Australian Hearing website

Do I get an Individual Healthcare Identifier? (IHI)

Yes, every Australian resident is allocated a unique 16 digit IHI. On 1 July 2016 Norfolk Island residents will get a Medicare number and at the same time will get an IHI. You don’t need to remember or do anything with your IHI. It has been created to be used by healthcare providers to improve the security and communication of your personal health information.

The Healthcare Identifiers Service allocates three types of healthcare identifiers:
  • Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) – for individuals receiving healthcare services;
  • Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I) – for healthcare professionals involved in providing patient care; and
  • Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation (HPI-O) – for organisations that deliver healthcare (such as hospitals or general practices).
For more information about healthcare identifiers please visit the Healthcare Identifiers FAQ webpage.
  • The My Health Record system uses healthcare identifiers to provide greater certainty that your information is being correctly attributed to your My Health Record.
  • The My Health Record system enables people to access their key health information online. Individuals control what is stored on their My Health Record and decide which healthcare provider organisations can view or add to their record.

Am I eligible for a My Health Record?

Yes, a My Health Record is available to all Australians. You can register:
  • Online via My Health Record website
  • By phone, by calling 1800 723 471 and select option one
  • In person, by visiting a Medicare Service Centre
  • By asking your healthcare provider to assist you with registering
  • By completing a registration application form, available from a Medicare Service Centre or from the My Health Record website, and posting it to:
  • My Health Record Program
    GPO Box 9942
    Sydney NSW 2001

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Aged Care

What aged care services will be provided on Norfolk Island from 1 July 2016 and will there be any changes?

From 1 July 2016, the Australian Government will assume responsibility for the delivery of aged care services to eligible residents on Norfolk Island through a Multi-Purpose Service (MPS). The MPS will deliver a range of aged care services as an integrated, flexible model from the existing hospital buildings. This will include residential aged care and home care services for people with more complex aged care needs.

For entry level support at home, Home Support services for frail, older people aged 65 years and over (50 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) will be funded by the Australian Government for Norfolk Island residents. Examples of the types of services that are available include: personal care; domestic assistance, transport, social support and meals.

What is a Multi-Purpose Service?

A Multi-Purpose Service provides integrated health and aged care services in a small rural and remote community that cannot viably support a stand-alone hospital or aged care home. MPSs are administered under the Aged Care Act 1997 and associated principles. More information about the MPS Programme from the Department of Social Services website.

What will happen to existing clients currently receiving aged care services?

There will be no interruption to current aged care service delivery; existing clients will continue to receive aged care services after 1 July 2016.

What is the Continence Aids Payment Scheme?

The Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) is an Australian Government Scheme that provides a payment to assist eligible people who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the costs of their incontinence products.

How can I access the Continence Aids Payment Scheme?

Applicants must complete a CAPS Application Form, which includes a health report. Applicants and their health professional should read the CAPS Application Guidelines prior to completing the application form and health report. A health professional must complete the health report component.

Once approved, the CAPS payment is made by Medicare directly to the client's nominated bank account.

The CAPS will be available to eligible Australian residents living on Norfolk Island from 1 July 2016. Application guidelines and forms are available from the Australian Government website or by emailing Department of Health.

What is My Aged Care?

My Aged Care is the main entry point to the aged care system for older people. It provides information about aged care for consumers, family members and carers and service providers through the My Aged Care website and the My Aged Care contact centre.

Will My Aged Care be available to Norfolk Island Residents?

Yes. From 1 July 2016, Norfolk Island residents will be able to telephone My Aged Care as a free call. Information about the Norfolk Island MPS will also be accessible from My Aged Care after that date.
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