Overseas Visitors & Overseas Students
If you are visiting Australia and hold a temporary visa you should consider taking out Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC). If you need to visit a doctor or stay in hospital while you are here, you could find yourself responsible for the full cost of treatment, which can be very expensive.
In some cases, you may be required to take health insurance as a condition of your visa. This applies to most student visa applicants, who are required to hold Overseas Student Health Cover, Working visa applicants and others.
If you are visiting Australia and hold a temporary visa you should consider taking out Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC). If you need to visit a doctor or stay in hospital while you are here you could find yourself responsible for the full cost of treatment, which can be very expensive.
In some cases you may be required to take health insurance as part of your visa conditions – for example, students are required to take Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Applicants for working visas, such as subclasses 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) or 485 (Temporary Graduate), are required to take OVHC that meets certain requirements. Other visitors may also be required to take OVHC.
What type of cover should I purchase?
Medicare and visitors
If you are a visitor (but not student – see OSHC) from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Slovenia, Malta and Italy, you may apply for Medicare benefits under Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia.
With reciprocal Medicare benefits, you may be able to receive immediate necessary medical treatment in the public health system, but are not otherwise entitled to benefits and should still consider taking out OVHC.
If you are a recent migrant to Australia with permanent residency or you have applied for permanent residency, you are generally eligible to apply for interim or full Medicare benefits and gain immediate access to health care services. You can also purchase residents’ private health insurance.
Tips on health insurance for visitors
Benefits, membership costs and eligibility can vary greatly between insurers and insurance policies. When buying any health insurance take care to ensure the cover you select is suitable for your needs.
- Check the waiting periods of the policy. Most insurers will impose a 12 month waiting period for cover on pre-existing conditions, and some may even permanently exclude pre-existing conditions, meaning they can never be covered. Because OVHC policies generally commence when you arrive in Australia, illnesses that develop while you are travelling to Australia are usually considered to be pre-existing.
- Check the restrictions and exclusions of the policy. Not everything will be covered in full and some items may not be covered at all. Remember that hospital costs for overseas visitors, even in a public hospital, are generally higher than $1,000 per day.
- Consider taking out the highest level of hospital cover you can afford. To save money on premiums, you can choose to pay a higher excess rather than having a restriction or exclusion.
- Check how much your policy will cover for pharmaceuticals as most policies only have limited cover and will not adequately cover high-cost drugs such as those used as chemotherapy drugs in cancer treatment, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
- If your visa status or Medicare eligibility changes inform your insurer as soon as possible. Check with them that your policy is still suitable, as you may be able to swap to a residents’ policy.
- Keep your policy paid & up to date. If your policy falls behind in payments, your insurer may refuse claims or cancel your membership.
- If you are anticipating treatment, contact your insurer and find out whether you will be covered and how much you will need to pay yourself. If you need treatment which is not covered by your insurer, ask the service provider to find out how much you will need to pay out of your own pocket. If possible, ask for a written quote.