The COVID-19 pandemic has brought public health to the forefront of our minds for the best part of this year, however the healthcare system in Australia did not become overwhelmed as initially predicted. Nevertheless, there have been significant changes brought about by social distancing, restrictions that have discouraged people from leaving home, public fear of contracting or spreading the coronavirus in health facilities, and increased financial pressure.
So, if you are feeling a little unwell, you think you might have COVID-19, or you simply need to visit your doctor (General Practitioner) for any other reason, you should not feel scared or stressed to do so. Keep reading to understand when you should visit your GP in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When should I visit my doctor?
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can have a range of symptoms.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- night sweats or chills
- runny nose
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- muscle pain (myalgia)
- joint pain
- loss of smell (anosmia)
- loss of taste (dysgeusia)
- loss of appetite
If you have any of these symptoms, you should consider getting tested for COVID-19 — even if your symptoms are mild. For more information on COVID testing and to check your symptoms online, visit the healthdirect website.
Unsure if you are covered for COVID related treatment? Understand more about what your student health insurance will cover in our blog piece here.
Making an appointment with your doctor
When you make a doctor’s appointment, you are automatically given a short appointment (10-15 minutes is standard). If you are worried that it will not be enough time, you can ask for a longer appointment over the phone. Wait times can vary and doctors often run behind, so if you are concerned about waiting, it is best to make an appointment first thing in the morning, or the first time slot after lunch. If you are not sure when your doctor takes lunch, you can always ask the receptionist over the phone. For more information on booking appointments, visit BetterHealth.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there are now different options available for accessing health services. This includes telehealth appointments, where a doctor will call and speak with you over the phone, to avoid having to enter a doctor’s office and spreading the virus further. You don’t need any special equipment, you can use either your phone or your computer. To make a telehealth appointment, simply call your health care provider. They may also offer any of your existing appointments as a telehealth appointment. For more information on telehealth, visit the Australian Government Department of Health’s website here.
Paying to see a doctor
GP visits in Australia are either fully covered or partially by Medicare if you are an Australian citizen. OSHC generally covers visits to the doctor, some hospital treatments, some medication and ambulance cover. If you’re not sure, it’s best to reach out to your insurance provider to understand more.
If you are unable to return home due to the coronavirus outbreak and are now on the COVID visa, you will need to purchase OVHC to meet your visa requirements. If you want more information on the services we provide to those affected by COVID-19 including OVHC, OSHC and money transfers for living expenses, visit our website.
This is an unprecedented time, but you can stay safe and stay covered. If you are feeling unwell, book an appointment with your doctor, and be sure to reach out to your insurance provider if you have questions regarding your coverage.