A Guide to Health Insurance in Australia

A Guide to Health Insurance in Australia


International students seeking to study in. Australia must get health insurance. Unlike most study destinations, Australia has unique health insurance for international students.

In most cases, students are free to obtain health insurance from two major providers. One, from the government. Two, from a private insurance provider. However, things are slightly different in Australia. 

Those who will apply for a student visa need the Overseas Student Health Cover or OSHC. Read on to learn more about this special health insurance:

Who Can Get the OSHC?

The Department of Home Affairs in Australia mandates that foreign students must get the OSHC. The students must be at least 18 years old and pursuing a full-time academic degree. 

This mandate is in connection with the student visa application. Without the OSHC, a foreign student cannot get a student visa, and thus cannot enter and study in Australia.

Exemptions to the OSHC

There are certain exemptions to getting the OSHC such as:

  • Norwegian students covered under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme
  • Swedish students covered under the Kammarkollegiet or the National Board of Student Aid
  • Belgian students who are covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement

Insurers That Provide OSHC

As of writing, there are six private providers in Australia that offer OSHC. These insurers are parties to the Deed for the Provision of Overseas Student Health Cover. 

These insurers are:

  • CBHS International Health
  • Allianz Global Assistance 
  • OSHC from Medibank Private
  • Bupa Australia
  • Nib
  • Medibank Private

Where and When to Get OSHC

As part of the student visa application, the student must get OSHC before flying to Australia. You must make arrangements prior to your departure and application.

Once you arrive in Australia, you can switch to a different insurer if your cover does not lapse.

You can get the OSHC from various sources. One way is through your university if they offer it, or you can purchase directly from the insurer.

Another option is connecting with a migration agent. If you have an education agent, you can get one if the university they represent offers OSHC.

Coverage of OSHC

Products and policies involved in the OSHC vary per insurer. But each of them needs to provide the minimum benefits stipulated in the Deed.

Some insurers may offer extra benefits on top of the minimum. This usually costs more for students.

If a student will be entering Australia alone, they must get a Single OSHC insurance policy. Note that there are other policies for students accompanied by a family member.

In general, health insurance covers doctor consultation fees, hospital treatment, and ambulances. This also covers medicine but in a limited number only.

Important Things to Remember

You may be subject to a 12-month waiting period if you have pre-existing conditions. This depends on the terms of the insurer.

You must also inquire about restrictions in your policy. If your eligibility changes, you must urgently inform your insurer. Remember that you cannot stay in Australia without a valid OSHC.

Getting the OSHC is essential to enter and stay in Australia. For more information about getting insurance in Australia, read our articles here at MSM Unify.


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