Overseas Student Health Cover

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When travelling overseas, health cover is something that always needs to be considered. After all, nothing is more important than your health and wellbeing.

Australia is a country with an excellent healthcare system. In mid-2019, it was rated the 10th best in the world by the World Health Organisation.

Australian citizens and permanent residents receive free public health care, through a service called Medicare. 

Unfortunately, Medicare is not available to those residing in Australia on a subclass 500 student visa.

If you’re moving to Australia on one of these study visas, you’ll need to sign up for an Overseas Student Health Cover policy. It’s not a complicated process, but there are a few things you need to look out for.

The most important thing is that it is compulsory to have Overseas Student Health Cover whilst in Australia on a student visa. 

If you do not have this cover, you may not be let into the country.

Below, we’ve provided some essential information to make life a little easier for you.

Photo of Bupa's office

What is Overseas Student Health Cover?

Overseas Student Health Cover, or OSHC, is a type of health insurance policy that is tailor-made for international students. 

OSHC ensures that international students are covered for the same kinds of things that Medicare provides. However, you do need to pay for this cover as it is an insurance policy.

It’s only provided by private health insurance companies who signed an agreement with the Australian government. 

Basically, the agreement details what the company must cover you for, and the conditions around when you may cancel your policy, if necessary.

Further information on the agreement is available on the websites of the providers.

Who Needs to Have OSHC?

Every single international student in Australia must have an OSHC policy before arriving, with a couple of exceptions.

Students from Belgium are covered by a reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA), so do not need OSHC cover.

Those from Norway and Sweden do not need to have an OSHC policy if they have a healthcare insurance policy back home. 

If they do not have a policy in their home country, then they must also apply for OSHC.

Dependents coming with you to Australia also need to be covered by an OSHC policy

This will involve purchasing a dual or family policy.  Whilst these policies will cover multiple people, they are more expensive.

Who Offers Overseas Student Health Care?

There are five health insurance providers in total who offer OSHC. You must register for a policy through one of these providers.

The five providers are AHM, nib, Medibank, Bupa and Allianz.

These are the companies who signed the agreement with the Australian government to provide OSHC to international students.

All of the providers have very user-friendly websites, international phone numbers as well as a social media presence. 

This means you can easily contact them for more information when registering for a policy. 

Remember, this must be done before you arrive in Australia.

Photo of Allianz's office

What Does OSHC Include?

As mentioned earlier, OSHC essentially covers everything that Medicare offers Australian citizens. This is all basic health care.

It includes covering costs for visits to the doctor, some hospital treatment, ambulance cover and some cover for purchasing medicines.

It is also possible to purchase a more advanced policy. This would include cover for extra treatments and services. 

For example, physiotherapy, eye tests, some surgeries and remedial massage.

You can compare the various plans offered online on the websites of each provider.

How Much Does OSHC Cost?

The cost of OSHC policies can vary.

The longer your plan runs the more money you’ll save. That means that a single year policy will cost a little more per year than a two-year policy.

Of course, this depends on how long you are planning on studying in Australia for.

The approximate cost of a single policy is around $500 to $600 per year. A dual policy will cost considerably more, and a family policy more again.

There are a number of websites that will help you to compare the prices of each provider.

These sites will also give you a clear comparison of what each provider does and does not include in their OSHC policy, as well as the price.

How Do I Register?

You can register for OSHC online through one of the providers websites. 

Alternatively, you can purchase your OSHC plan through a third-party website. However, it’s advisable to do it directly through one of the insurance companies. 

This provides peace of mind, as well as a more direct line of communication with your OSHC provider. It may also save you money.

Photo of an international student thinking

What Do I Do Next?

You will receive a confirmation online immediately after registering and paying for your policy. Your cover will activate as soon as you step off your flight onto Australian soil. 

It’s very important that you get your arrival and departure dates correct when purchasing your OSHC policy. 

If the dates on your policy are incorrect, you may end up being without medical cover. If you do need some kind of medical attention, this could incur a huge cost.

How Do I Renew My OSHC Policy?

If you are extending your student visa, you can renew your policy by contacting your insurance provider directly. This can be done online or over the phone.

It’s important that you do not forget to renew if staying in Australia longer. You may be charged penalties if your cover lapses and you do not renew it. 

As well as that, you won’t be covered for any medical attention whilst your policy has lapsed.

Safe travels!

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