Health and safety

Overseas Student Health Cover – Council of International Students Australia

Overseas Student Health Cover

The Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is an insurance that help international students pay for their medical and hospital costs in Australia. It might also pay some others medical needs, such as medicines and ambulance services.

The cost of an OSHC differs depending upon the cover required. The average cost of minimum cover is AUD$500 for 12 months of singles cover, $2600 for 12 months of couples cover and $4200 for 12 months of family cover. However, understanding what is covered can be quite confusing.

Who needs OSHC?

Any person who holds a student visa can have access to an OSHC, as well as, their family members (e.g. partners and children under 18).

However, there are some exceptions to this, such as:

  • Norwegian students, because they are covered by the National Insurance Scheme
  • Swedish students, who have insurance provided by CSN International or Kammarkkllegiet and
  • Belgian students

Why international students need OSHC?

The OSHC is a visa requirement that international students must meet, and its breach might also lead to cancellation of their visa. This insurance must start from the date the student arrives to Australia until the student leaves the country or moves to a non-student visa sub class.

In addition, hospitals and medical treatments in Australia can be very expensive for overseas students as they are not covered under the Australian Government’s ‘Medicare’ Public Health Insurance System.

What is covered under OSHC?

If you are an international student, the OSHC covers some or all of your medical costs when you get sick or have an accident. This includes: visits to General Practitioner (GP), some hospital treatments, ambulance travel, and some pharmaceutical items.

Some of the medical treatments are not cover for the OSHC. For example, dental, optical and physiotherapy are some of them. However, these treatments are available as ‘extras’ from some OSHC providers as part of more comprehensive OSHC cover.

At a minimum, each OSHC product must include cover for:

  • The benefit amount listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for out-of-hospital medical services (for example, a general practitioner)
  • 100% of the MBS fee for in-patient medical services (for example, surgery)
  • Public hospital shared ward accommodation
  • Private hospital shared ward accommodation (only for hospitals that have contractual arrangements with the overseas student’s health insurer)
  • Day surgery accommodation
  • Some prosthetic devices
  • Pharmaceutical benefits up to $50 per pharmaceutical item to a maximum of $300 a year for a single membership ($600 for a family membership). Overseas students may face significant out of pocket costs if they do not have appropriate coverage for treatment with pharmaceuticals, particularly oncology (cancer) treatment.
  • Ambulance services.

Waiting periods

Under OSHC policies, OSHC insurers may impose waiting periods for the following:

  • Treatment during the first 12 months of membership for pre-existing medical conditions, disabilities and pregnancy-related services; and
  • Treatment during the first 2 months of membership for pre-existing psychiatric conditions.

Waiting periods start from the day of arrival in Australia on a student visa.

The 12 month waiting period for pregnancy-related conditions not only poses potentially grave risks to the health of female international students or to the female partners of international students, but also conflicts with Australia’s human rights obligations. Available here.

What insurers can not cover under the OSHC Deed?

  • Treatment arranged before coming to Australia
  • Treatment needed while travelling to or from Australia
  • Transportation of an overseas student or dependent into or out of Australia for any reason
  • Treatment covered by provisions for compensation and damages.

Providers of OSHC (Insurance Companies)

OSHC is offered by 6 Australian registered health insurance companies. Students can either choose to take out OSHC with their institution recommended provider or with another provider.

  1. Australian Health Management:
  2. BUPA Australia:
  3. Medibank Private:
  4. NIB OSHC:
  5. OSHC Allianz Global Assistance (formerly OSHC Worldcare):
  6. CBHS Corporate Health:

Students can always transfer to a different provider at any time, but some of them might charge ‘refund processing fee’ while transferring to a new policy before the old one ends.

If you would like to file a health grievance, please check out more information on our how to claim a grievance page.


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