The health examination is an essential part of the visa process. If everyone in the family is fit and healthy it is very easy, if there are pre-existing conditions things could get much more complex, complex enough that professional advice from a registered agent is recommended. This section is written from the perspective of a simple case. Price reflects the cost I paid for 2 adults and 2 children under 5.
The Health Examination
The health examination for Australian emigration is an essential part of the visa process. Everyone looking to emigrate permanently to Australia has to undergo a medical check-up. You can’t go to any doctor for this check, there are doctors that are approved by DIBP and you have to use these surgeries for your check up. If you are fit and healthy, then this is one of the easiest parts of the visa process, although unfortunately it is one of the more expensive activities. At the surgery I attended, the cost per adult was £290 plus £90 for each child under 5. Depending on the age of the applicant, different things are required. I will go through in detail what we had checked, but this might change from surgery to surgery as the doctors might use different methods to draw their conclusions on your health and well-being.
Its worth understanding why DIBP insists on these check-ups, and with that knowledge, you can gauge how much difficulty you will have passing your medical. In a nut shell, the Australian government doesn’t want to grant permanent residence status to someone who is going to be a financial burden on the healthcare system. There is going to be an algorithm somewhere that looks at pre-existing medical conditions and the cost on the healthcare system and if over a set period of time your medical conditions will cost less than some pre-set level then you will be approved, but if your healthcare costs will cost more than that ceiling you will be refused. SO conditions like high-blood pressure, asthma etc are not going to be any problem, something that is going to cost hundreds of thousands to treat in the short term will get rejected. The other thing that is taken into account is the protection of the Australian population. The government doesn’t want very contagious things, or diseases that are going to result in the need for organ transplants down the road. That’s why hepatitis C and kidney disease are screened for – there aren’t many people in Australia to provide organs and so those conditions draw red flags to applications.
So onto the medical. In order to book your medical, you have to fill out a health questionnaire through your immi account. Completing this generates a HAP ID code which you need in order to book the medical. This HAP ID links you to your visa application and allows the doctors to upload your results directly to your immi-account. You never see the results of the medical. If there is something serious, the doctors will speak to you about it or get back in contact with you. WIth children, the results are uploaded immediately as there is no blood work or x-rays, with adults, it can take up to 2 weeks.
So what is the examination like and what did we have done?
We went to a very nice private clinic. On arrival our pre-filled out questionnaires were taken. We were all given hospital bracelets with our details on them so there could be no confusion over who we were (and so no one else could take our place to try cheat the system. Our photos were also taken and attached to the assessment. The next step was chest x-rays for the adults. For males, this involved removing shirts, my wife had to take off her shirt and bra, but was given a surgical gown for modesty. For women over 40, I believe there is also a breast x-ray/exam. The chest x-ray is to check for TB. If the x-ray shows scarring then I believe the next step is sputum tests and culturing, but we never had to go through that.
After the chest x-rays we had general physicals. This was all done as a family and they recorded weight and height for everyone. The adults also had to do a urine test. I went in thinking this was going to be an accompanied thing, but it wasn’t. It was simply provide a sample, which was dip-tested. If there were any abnormal readings there would be follow-up but we are all normal. The final thing in this segment was an eye-sight check. I’m not really sure why this is done – I can’t see how needing glasses could be a disqualifying thing. So if you wear glasses, remember to take them with you.
The final part of the health check, was the first time we met the doctor, before that everything was done by nurses. Again, we were all seen as a family. It started with the doctor reviewing our medical history and making general observations about us. There were lots of questions and chit-chat, undoubtedly testing for mental acuity. With the children, the doctor gave them pens and paper and asked them to draw, and asked them various questions to gauge their development relative to their age. After that it was checking heart and breathing through the stethoscope, and a physical examination of the abdomen (feeling to make sure everything feels normal). Hip movement was checked with the children, and blood pressure and heart rate was checked for the adults. And that was it. The adults had one more trip to the nurse to have blood drawn for analysis (HIV and hepatitis tests, plus some extra vials just in case additional tests were needed), and then, after being relieved of £700, we were on our way home. The anxiety leading up to it was completely misplaced. The doctor we had was very experienced and she knew exactly what to look out for and what was disqualifying and what wasn’t.