Refugee Council of Australia
COVID-19 written in gold on black background

Open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison – Nobody Left Behind

Access to Medicare

1. Access to medical treatment and Medicare for people seeking asylum

People seeking asylum who are living in the community without access to Medicare and basic financial support are some of those at greatest risk for COVID-19 and also those that cannot adhere to public health requirements like self-isolation. Unstable housing as a result of destitution impedes people’s ability to adequately self-isolate. Lack of access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme means many cannot afford to purchase vital medications. This can further compromise people’s general health and increase their need for hospital admission, which is challenging when the health system is experiencing increased demand due to COVID-19. Without a Medicare card, people will face significant obstacles to testing and treatment. A Medicare card is the only universally-accepted, easy-to-understand identification that facilitates healthcare access for testing and treatment. All people in Australia need access to testing and related treatments and people seeking asylum require urgent access to Medicare.

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