Medicare Levy

In Australia, access to quality healthcare is a fundamental right for every citizen. The Australian government introduced the Medicare system, a publicly funded universal healthcare scheme to support this. The government imposes a levy on eligible taxpayers to fund this system and ensure its sustainability. A flat rate of 2% for the current income year (CIY) on the taxable income of an individual is charged.

The Medicare levy is referred to in the Australian tax legislation, specifically in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (ITAA 1936) and the Medicare Levy Act 1986. These acts outline the details of how the Medicare levy is calculated, collected, and administered as part of the overall tax system.

ITAA 1936Medicare Levy Act 1986
Section 251S: Calculation of Medicare levySection 3: Definitions related to the Medicare levy
Section 251T: Collection and recovery of Medicare levySection 5: Medicare levy rates
Section 251U: Medicare levy payable by certain taxpayersSection 7: Medicare levy exemptions
Section 251V: Medicare levy exemptions and reductionsSection 8A: Medicare levy surcharge for high-income earners

The Medicare levy is a levy imposed on Australian taxpayers to contribute to funding the country’s public healthcare system. It was introduced in 1984 as part of the Medicare system’s implementation. The levy’s primary objective is to ensure all Australians can access essential medical services without financial barriers.

The Medicare levy is typically payable by most Australian residents. However, certain exemptions and reductions are in place to support individuals with lower incomes. These exemptions and reductions consider income levels, family circumstances, and medical conditions. Some individuals, like low-income earners or those facing severe financial hardship, may be exempt from paying the levy.

Every fiscal year, specific thresholds are released to aid individuals and families with lower incomes determine their applicable Medicare levy. This levy helps fund Australia’s healthcare system.

If an individual’s income is equal to or falls below the relevant threshold, they are exempt from paying the Medicare levy. This provision ensures that those with limited financial means are not burdened with additional healthcare costs.

Conversely, suppose an individual’s income surpasses the relevant threshold but remains below the designated phase-in limit. In that case, they are subject to a Medicare levy of 10 cents for every dollar above the threshold. This progressive approach ensures that the levy remains manageable for those on the cusp of higher income brackets.


TaxpayerRelevant threshold amountPhase-in limit
Eligible (single) senior Australians$38,365$47,956


TaxpayerRelevant threshold amountPhase-in limit
Eligible (single) senior Australians$36,925$46,156

Families can also benefit from specific provisions related to the Medicare levy based on income levels. If a taxpayer’s income exceeds the low-income threshold for singles, they might be eligible for a reduced Medicare levy. This acknowledgment recognises that families, even with relatively higher incomes, might still require financial relief due to various commitments and responsibilities.


Families with the following number of dependent children or studentsLower income limitUpper income limit
The additional amount of threshold for each dependent child or student will be increased by $3,760 (lower income limit) and $4,700 (upper income limit).


Families with the following number of dependent children or studentsLower income limitUpper income limit

Moreover, the healthcare system takes into account specific family dynamics. Reductions or exemptions from the Medicare levy can be granted in the following circumstances:

  1. Marital status: If a taxpayer was married or in a de facto relationship on 30 June of the CIY, they could be eligible for a reduction or exemption.
  2. Loss of spouse: If a taxpayer’s spouse passes away during the year and they do not enter into another marital relationship, they could qualify for a reduction or exemption.
  3. Child care: A taxpayer might be entitled to a reduction or exemption if they qualify for the invalid and invalid carer tax offset due to caring for their child with specific needs.
  4. Sole care: If a taxpayer has sole care of a dependent child or student at any point during the CIY, they might be eligible for a reduction or exemption.

In addition to the standard Medicare levy, the government has introduced the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) to encourage higher-income earners to take private health insurance. The MLS is an extra charge imposed on taxpayers who earn above a certain income threshold and do not have an appropriate level of private hospital insurance. This measure aims to ease the pressure on the public healthcare system by encouraging those who can afford it to invest in private healthcare coverage.

The funds collected through the Medicare levy are used to subsidise various medical services and treatments available to Australian citizens. These services may include visits to general practitioners (GPs), specialist appointments, hospital stays, diagnostic tests, and essential medications. The levy aims to maintain the nation’s healthcare infrastructure, ensuring Australians receive timely medical attention when needed.

Over the years, the Medicare levy rate and income thresholds have been adjusted to reflect changes in the economy and the cost of healthcare services. These adjustments help the government balance adequately funding the healthcare system and minimising taxpayers’ financial burden.

As healthcare needs evolve and medical technologies advance, the Australian government may need to reassess the Medicare levy and associated policies to ensure the continued provision of high-quality healthcare to all citizens. It is essential to balance sustainability, equity, and accessibility in healthcare delivery.

In conclusion, the Medicare levy is a cornerstone of Australia’s commitment to providing accessible and affordable healthcare to its citizens. By collecting funds from eligible taxpayers, the government ensures that essential medical services are within reach for all Australians, regardless of their income levels.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article or on this website is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. The content is not intended to substitute for obtaining expert advice from qualified professionals or to be relied upon for making decisions. We do not assume any responsibility for any reliance on the information presented here. Use of this website or reading the article constitutes acceptance of this disclaimer.

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