If you are a student from overseas on a temporary student visa it is a condition of your visa to take out appropriate health cover known as Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
This type of cover assists international students to meet the costs of medical and hospital care they may need while in Australia.
Students from Sweden, Norway, and Belgium may have special arrangements under their own national schemes – check with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to find out if special arrangements apply to you and if you are exempt from the requirement to purchase OSHC.
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.
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.
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 Extra 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.
Only a small number of registered health insurers offer OSHC:
As holding OSHC is a visa requirement, take care to maintain your cover at all times and do not fall behind in payments. If you do fall behind 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.