Australians who fall ill when cruising between two Australian ports are not covered by Medicare, Labor MP Laurie Ferguson said.
Mr Ferguson said Australian cruisers are being misled about Medicare coverage and could be hit by thousands of dollars in medical bills.
He told the House of Representatives that the government website, smartraveller.gov.au, advises cruisers that they are covered by Medicare when travelling between two Australian ports.
This is incorrect.
He said that not all medical staff on board cruise ships are not accredited Medicare providers and are billing Australian cruisers for visits to the ship’s doctor.
A visit to the doctor on a cruise ship could cost up to $200 and in emergency situations an air ambulance could set a cruiser back by up to $20,000.
With cruising numbers expected to rise by seven percent between 2013/14 and 2019/20, he said that Australians should buy travel insurance.
“I would think it unusual that Australians travelling to the Melbourne Cup or some cricket event would decide not to take out travel insurance for such a short journey,” he said.
The MP said he spoke to the health minister about the situation.
The health minister said: “Health care arrangements on cruise ships are a matter for the ship’s operator, and they are under no obligation to employ Medicare eligible medical practitioners.”
Did you know that you are not covered by Medicare when travelling between Australian ports? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.