The Australian Health Service: Getting an X-Ray

You may remember a couple of months ago we were rather concerned about Elizabeth’s health when she returned from school one afternoon. She had a soaring temperature and a hacking cough just at the time when swine flu was sweeping through the country.

Thankfully she got over it, well almost. A short while after, the hacking cough returned and it didn’t seem to want to go away. My immediate thoughts were that she’d got involved with a bad crowd at school and had started smoking. But my wife pointed out that she was still only five.

So we both agreed that perhaps this wasn’t the case.

So, it was back to the doctors and she was prescribed antibiotics. During the course of this medication the cough disappeared but as soon as it was finished, the cough return. The same happened after the second course of antibiotics. So my wife took her back to the doctors again.

The doctor explained that the antibiotics already prescribed took care of 90% of hacking coughs but 10% needed a different type of antibiotic. So Elizabeth was given a script for a third course of antibiotics.

At the same time, as a precaution, the doctor also wrote out a script for her to have an x-ray to check her lungs.

We don’t have private medical insurance here so we wondered how that would work. This is what happened.

On the back of the form that we got from the doctor was a list of around 20 or so locations in the Brisbane area that perform the x-ray. The nearest one was around 15 minutes drive and my wife telephoned to make an appointment for 11 a.m. the next day, which just happened to be a Saturday.

The X-Ray Shop.

The X-Ray Shop.

My wife turned up the next day at 11 o’clock and she was walking out of the door at around 11:20 a.m. with the x-ray all done and in an envelope ready to take back to the doctors on Monday.

How does that compare with England?

Where I used to live x-rays were only available at the local hospitals A & E department. There was no such thing as an appointment, just turn up and get in the queue. I never got in a queue that was less than four hours.

And the cost? In England it was free but here there is a charge. The full cost of my daughters chest x-ray was $60.10. But remember that Medicare system I have mentioned before? I also mentioned it when I talked about NICs and income-tax in Australia yesterday. It’s that 1.5% deduction from your salary that covers your Medicare.

Well, through Medicare you will get a refund of $40.10 so the “gap” as they call it is just $20.

So what would you rather do? Pay $20 for an x-ray or get it free after a minimum four hour wait?

I know which system I prefer!

For us the story had an even happier ending. Elizabeth’s chest x-ray was just fine and the new course of antibiotics sorted out the hacking cough.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Sebastian Antony December 14, 2018, 1:17 pm |

    Bob, I am a Radiologist practicing in India.
    What are the qualifications for a Radiologist to practice Australia?
    Is FRCR mandatory?

    If you can help…

    • BobinOz December 17, 2018, 7:00 pm |

      I don’t know what the requirements are, it’s all very complicated. You will find some very useful links on my page about Doctors in Australia though. Hope that helps, Bob

  • Andy McCabe July 16, 2014, 8:27 am |

    Thanks for this post, I found it really helpful as I’ve been in Brisbane since Septembet and went over my ankle playing futsal recently and actually heard it crack before the pain kicked in. It’s not broken but I wanted to go for an X-ray to make sure that I hadn’t fractured anything so this explained the costs and procedure that I was worried about. Thanks very much.

    • BobinOz July 16, 2014, 6:48 pm |

      I know how you feel Andy, I’m a regular five aside football player myself, x-ray departments are part of the game aren’t they?

      Glad my article helped.

  • Domenico May 25, 2011, 7:39 am |

    Hi Bob,
    Can you send me the address of X ray shop where you have been, please?
    I need soon a general x ray.

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