So you’re planning to head down under? Good for you! Whether you’re intending to work here or just coming for a holiday,, we know you’ll have a great time. And hopefully, your stay will be accident and illness free too. But just in case the worst does happen, private health insurance has got you covered.
Understanding the Australian health system
When relocating to Australia, you firstly need to check if you’ll be covered by Medicare, Australia’s public health system. Residents of some countries enjoy limited Medicare cover, but only for emergency treatment and only under certain conditions. If you aren’t covered by Medicare, you’ll have to pay for hospital or medical treatment, which can be pricey. For instance, an emergency appendix removal can cost up to $30,000!
Are you eligible for Medicare benefits?
If you’re entering Australia on a temporary visa, you won’t be eligible for Medicare benefits unless you’re a resident of a country that has a ‘Reciprocal Health Care Agreement’ with Australia. Currently, this includes New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium. If you’re visiting Australia from one of these countries, you’re generally covered for medically necessary treatment in a public hospital. You won’t be able to choose your own doctor though, and you also won’t be covered for:
- Treatment in a private hospital, only public hospitals;
- Non-emergency doctor visits; or
- Everyday ‘general treatment’ services like dental, optical, physio, chiro or ambulance transport.
To check if you’re eligible for Medicare benefits visit the Medicare website
Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC)
Even if you are covered by Medicare, private health insurance still makes sense. Medicare is good, but it isn’t perfect. There are still waiting lists. And who wants to wait for a doctor when you could be enjoying Australia? Plus, private health insurance is a mandatory requirement of some visa subclasses, so it’s important to be fully informed.
OVHC is private health insurance designed for international visitors and workers, including:
- Short-term visitors
- Long Stay Working visa holders (subclass 457)
- Skilled Graduate visa holders (subclass 485)
- Tourist visa holders (subclass 676)
- Work and Holiday visa holders (subclass 462)
- Temporary visa holders (short stay subclass 100, long stay subclass 101)
- Retirement visa holders (subclass 410)
- Norfolk Island residents
- And more…
* Visa 457 requirements: If you’re applying for a 457 visa (Long Stay Working), you’ll be required to hold a minimum level of private health insurance and maintain it for the duration of your stay in Australia. You will also need to provide the Australian Department of Borders & Protection (DIBP) with a letter from your chosen health insurer to verify that you have met this requirement. A letter template can be downloaded from the DIBP website.
Alternatively, if you choose to join a private health fund like HIF, they’ll provide you with your letter of visa compliance instantly by email once your online policy application is complete. Visit http://www.hif.com.au/visitor-cover to find out more and get an obligation free quote.
How much does Overseas Visitors Health Cover cost?
A number of Australian health funds offer Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) and the price can vary between funds. The table below provides an example of monthly health cover premiums for working visa holders, as provided by HIF.
|Type of Overseas Visitors Cover||Single||Couple / Family|
|Entry Level / Budget Cover||$83.10||$166.00|
|Comprehensive (with $500 excess)||$164.80||$329.60|
|Comprehensive Cover (no excess)||$195.30||$390.85|
Please note: The premiums above are monthly rates and are provided by HIF, the Health Insurance Fund of Australia. If you choose to join HIF and pay on a yearly basis, you’ll receive an ongoing 4% discount.
Do permanent migrants need to take out OVHC?
For the first two years in Australia (while waiting for permanent residency to be granted), migrants are not entitled to Medicare benefits so purchasing OVHC is recommended in the meantime. Once your residency or citizenship has been approved, you’ll then begin to receive Medicare benefits so you may then wish to change your Overseas Visitors Cover policy to a standard resident’s policy instead. As well as giving you continued peace of mind that your health is protected, you’ll also limit potential tax implications and avoid public waiting lists.
What about overseas students?
If you’re planning to study down under and will be visiting Australia on a temporary student visa, you may be required (as a condition of your visa) to take out Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
Please note: The requirements for Overseas Student Health Cover differ slightly for students from Belgium, Norway and Sweden. For more information on OSHC, visit health.gov.au
Can I get cover for other services like dental, optical and physio too?
Absolutely! CombiningExtras cover (sometimes also referred to as ancillary, auxiliary or general treatment cover) with OVHC hospital and medical cover is the best way to ensure complete peace of mind for you and your family while you’re in Australia. Extras Cover pays rebates towards services undertaken out of hospital that are generally not covered by Medicare, such as:
- Assisted Reproduction Drugs (e.g. IVF)
- Complementary therapies (e.g. remedial massage, naturopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine)
- Emergency ambulance
- Glasses and contact lenses
- Healthy lifestyle services (e.g. weight loss programs, yoga, pilates, gym membership)
- Occupational therapy
- Psychological consultations
- Podiatry consultations
- Speech therapy
- And much more…
To further encourage overseas visitors to take out extras cover, the Australian federal government provides a rebate of up to 40% (dependent on your age and annual income) on Extras Cover. Find out more
- Australian Government Health Insurance website
- Medicare Australia
- Health Insurance Fund of Australia
- Commonly asked questions about OVHC
The information on this page was provided by our health insurance partner HIF, the Health Insurance Fund of Australia