Overseas Student Health Cover

If you are a student from overseas on a temporary student visa it is a condition of your visa to maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of your visa.  Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is considered adequate health insurance.

This type of cover assists international students to meet the costs of medical and hospital care they may need while in Australia. OSHC also includes ambulance cver and limited pharmaceuticals.

If you are in Australia on a student visa from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy or New Zealand, you can also apply for Medicare under your country's Reciprocal Health Care Agreements. Students from Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland are not covered by the agreements with those countries.

Any Medicare coverage you are entitled to under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement will be in addition to OSHC. Having reciprocal access to Medicare does not exempt you from needing to take out OSHC.

Students from Sweden, Norway, and Belgium may have special arrangements under their own national schemes - check with the Department of Home Affairs to find out if special arrangements apply to you and if you are exempt from the requirement to purchase OSHC.

What does OSHC cover?

OSHC policies assist to cover the cost of hospital and medical treatment.

Benefits are also paid for ambulance services but only limited benefits for pharmaceuticals apply, limited to $50 per pharmaceutical item to a maximum of $300 a year for single membership ($600 for a family membership). You may face significant out of pocket costs if you need treatment with pharmaceuticals, particularly oncology (cancer) treatment which can costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Travellers entering Australia may bring in medicines and medical devices for immediate use and to import small quantities for personal use. For more information see the Therapeutic Goods Administration website - Entering Australia and Personal Importation Scheme.

OSHC does not pay for general treatment (ancillary, or extras cover) such as dental, optical or physiotherapy. If you require cover for these treatments, you may take Extras OSHC provided by an OSHC provider or general treatment cover with any Australian private health insurer. You can also choose to supplement OSHC with other insurance such as international travel insurance.

Where can I purchase OSHC?

OSHC is offered by certain insurers under a Deed of Agreement with the Department of Health to provide adequate health insurance to students at a reasonable cost. Only a small number of registered health insurers offer OSHC:

Health InsurerInsurers website
ahm OSHC
BUPA Australiawww.overseasstudenthealth.com
Medibank Privatewww.medibank.com.au
NIB OSHCwww.nib.com.au
Allianz Global Assistance (Lysaght Peoplecare)www.allianzassistancehealth.com.au/en/student-visa-oshc/

As holding OSHC is a visa requirement, take care to maintain your cover at all times. If you do fall behind in payments or renewing your cover, you will be able to continue your cover but you may not be able to claim for services you received while you were in arrears.

If your visa status or Medicare eligibility changes at any time, inform your insurer as soon as possible to find out whether your level of cover is still suitable. When your student visa expires, then you are no longer eligible to hold OSHC.  You can then swap over to a residents' cover or to an Overseas Visitors Health Cover plan.