By King & Wood Mallesons

Australia’s healthcare system is organised, administered and funded by multiple levels of government and supported by a private health insurance system.


At the Federal level, the Government is responsible for directing and coordinating healthcare policy, funding and regulation. It administers Medicare, Australia’s public health insurance scheme, which encompasses the provision of free or subsidized medicines and free hospital treatment as a public patient in public hospitals.

State and Territory

Australia’s eight States and Territories are responsible for providing public health services, including public hospitals, and regulating private healthcare services and facilities.


Australians have the option of taking up private health insurance with a registered health insurer. Private health insurance provides insurance cover for hospital treatment as a private patient, ‘extras’ cover (for services like physiotherapy, optical and dental) and ambulance cover. The Federal Government encourages Australians to take out private health insurance through measures such as a health insurance rebate via the taxation system.


The rapid increase in internet and smartphone users has seen a boost in the number of Australian startups entering the international HealthTech market. In collaboration with active healthcare investment funds, they have developed a range of innovative technologies including wearable devices, healthcare applications, online healthcare information services and direct patient care tools.

HealthTech will be an important tool for the continued growth and development of the Australian healthcare system and opportunities exist for companies to invest in innovation in new health technologies and the emerging digital economy.

Medical devices

Australia has a diverse medical device industry, spanning manufacturers and suppliers of world-renowned technologies through to smaller, start-up ventures including a number spun-out of universities. The medical device industry is closely regulated but enjoys a strong level of support from the Government through measures such as MTPConnect and the R&D tax incentive scheme. Medical devices are regulated by Australia’s therapeutic goods laws.

Pharma and biotech

Businesses in the Australian pharma and biotech sector operate in a competitive market that has experienced a number of challenges in recent years. Ongoing reforms to the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (including mandatory price disclosure) as well as changing regulatory requirements and patent expiries mean that businesses have experienced pressure on a variety of fronts. Despite this, the Australian market offers opportunities for the pharma and biotech sector, with an ageing population, a high rate of prescriptions per capita and significant financial support from the Federal Government.

Australia’s therapeutic good laws govern the manufacture, import/export, supply and advertisement of medicines and biologicals in Australia. These laws are administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and provide a comprehensive scheme for regulating new and existing pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies.

International investment

Reflecting global trends, mergers and acquisitions are reshaping the Australian healthcare sector. Consolidation is expected to continue as international investors (particularly Chinese investors) with deep capital reserves and available, cheap funding acquire or invest into Australian hospital groups and aged care operators with the intention of expanding these operations in their home jurisdiction.

Private equity investment into the healthcare, pharma and biotech industry has also been prominent in recent years and is expected to continue as private equity firms look for opportunities in successful Australian businesses and changing regulatory systems.

We believe there are opportunities for increased collaboration and investment at all levels and in all sectors of the health, pharma and biotech industry. There are opportunities for increased investment and collaboration in the evolution of healthcare as the industry moves toward personalised medicine and improved use of technology to deliver better outcomes for patients.