There are no laws that prevent you from visiting a doctor without your parents or guardians. However, if you plan on going alone, you should contact the doctors’ office beforehand to confirm you want the appointment to be kept private.
While a doctor can attend an appointment with you without your parents or guardians, a doctor can only give you medical treatment (for example, prescribe you medication) if you give informed consent. Before you can give your consent to medical treatment, the doctor must make sure you understand the medical advice they have given you, the consequences of any treatment, and any alternative treatments that may be available.
There is no set age from which you can consent to medical treatment. You are able to consent to medical treatment, without your parents’ or guardian’s consent if your doctor decides you are capable of understanding the nature and risks of the treatment, including any alternative treatments and the consequences of not receiving medical treatment. To decide this, a doctor may consider:
A doctor is someone you can talk to and trust. A doctor is usually required to maintain confidentiality, meaning they are not allowed to tell other people about your appointment or what you discussed. However, in some situations where a doctor is worried about the health and safety of you or others, they might have to tell another person or government authority about your appointment. For example if:
Sometimes you might require emergency medical treatment. Your doctor is expected to make reasonable attempts to obtain either your consent or the consent of your parents or guardians. However, if it is not possible to obtain consent the doctor may still decide to treat you if they think it is necessary to save your life or prevent serious injury to your health.
Most of the time simple visits to the doctor will be paid for by Medicare. However, depending on the doctor and medical treatment you have you might need to pay a fee.
Medicare is a government service that pays some or all of the cost for Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and other persons living in Australia to receive certain medical services (like visits to the doctor, dentist or hospital). In order to use Medicare you must have a Medicare card. Information about Medicare cards can be found here.
Not all medical services will be paid for by Medicare. You should ask about payment options before you make your appointment with your doctor. In particular, you should ask:
|Bulk billing||When your doctor accepts your Medicare card as payment for the appointment.|
|Gap||The left over amount that you have to pay when Medicare does not cover the whole cost of the appointment.|
If the doctor does not bulk bill, you may need to make a Medicare claim to get a refund after your appointment. Most refunds are paid directly into the bank account that is connected to your Medicare card. More information about claiming can be found here.
|Medicare claim||When your doctor charges you directly for the appointment and Medicare gives you a refund later.|
Your Medicare history can be accessed online through www.my.gov.au. If you are 14 years or over, you can create your own myGov account to be able to access this information.
If you are listed on your parent’s or guardian’s Medicare card:
You or your parents may also have registered for a My Health Record. If you live in Northern Queensland a My Health Record will have been automatically created for you unless you opted out prior to 27 May 2016. A My Health Record will contain certain health information you or your parents choose to include in it. It may include details of claims made for Medicare benefits, claims for pharmaceutical benefits, organ donor status and immunisations administered until the age of 20. Anyone with parental responsibility for you can apply to have access to your My Health Record. When you turn 18 years old, this person will automatically lose the ability to access your My Health Record. More information on My Health Records can be found here.
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