Seeing the dentist
On the whole, dental treatment is not covered by Medicare, so the booking processes and treatment prices can vary between states and clinics. Public treatment is available to some adults (usually if you have a low income, you’re unemployed or retired) but the waiting times for this service have been known to reach two years for an appointment⁴. The government also subsidises some children’s dental care, but not everyone is eligible. You can check the Child Dental Benefits Schedule to find out more. Issues with accessing dental treatment have contributed to a high instance of tooth decay across the country: 90% of adults have suffered with this⁵.
For private treatment, the average cost of a scale and clean is $118 AUD⁶, which can add up when you’re booking in regularly. It’s also worth knowing that many dentists will still charge you if you cancel less than 24 hours before your appointment time.
Prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines
The way that medicines and prescriptions work in Australia, is generally quite similar to other parts of the world. You’ll need to visit your main doctor first, who’ll prescribe whatever medicine you need – so you can then go and collect it from your local pharmacy. This can take anything from no time at all, to a few days to be ready. You might be surprised to find that your usual prescription is available over-the-counter, and vice versa – so it can take a while to learn how to get the medicine you need. The exact prescription might be slightly different to what you’re used to elsewhere, so you’ll need to check with an Australian doctor to find out what the differences are and if your usual prescription is available.
The cost of prescriptions is often subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), available to anyone with access to Medicare. When you’re eligible for subsidised medicines, you pay up to a threshold of $40.30 for most medicines on the PBS, and $6.50 if you’ve got a concession card⁷ (similarly to public dental care, this is only available to some adults). Some pharmacists can charge small, additional fees for preparing and recording your prescription. Private prescriptions are also available, for those who don’t have access to Medicare or the PBS but prices vary, so many choose to shop around.