Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is an insurance to assist international students meet the costs of medical and hospital care that they may need while in Australia. OSHC will also pay limited benefits for pharmaceuticals and ambulance services. In Australia, the public health system Medicare covers most Australian residents for health care but for International Students, Australian Government requires each to settle an OSHC prior to your entry to Australia under student visa. Furthermore, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection requires overseas students to maintain OSHC for the duration of time they are in Australia.
What does OSHC cover?
OSHC provides a safety net for international students. It includes cover for visits to the doctor, some hospital treatment, ambulance cover and limited pharmaceuticals (medicines).
OSHC insurers can provide a range of different OSHC products. These may range from a basic product which covers only the compulsory minimum services to comprehensive products which cover, in addition to the compulsory minimum services, extra services as specified under the particular policy.
At a minimum, each OSHC product must include cover for:
- the benefit amount listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for out-of-hospital medical services (for example, a general practitioner)
- 100 per cent of the MBS fee for in-patient medical services (for example, surgery)
- public hospital shared ward accommodation
- private hospital shared ward accommodation (only for hospitals that have contractual arrangements with the overseas student’s health insurer)
- day surgery accommodation
- some prosthetic devices
- pharmaceutical benefits up to $50 per pharmaceutical item to a maximum of $300 a year for a single membership ($600 for a family membership). Overseas students may face significant out of pocket costs if they do not have appropriate coverage for treatment with pharmaceuticals, particularly oncology (cancer) treatment.
- ambulance services.
You may choose to compare policies from different OSHC insurers before selecting your insurer.
Before then purchasing the policy, make sure you check with the OSHC insurer about the level of cover you have chosen to ensure that it meets your needs.
OSHC may cover, depending on the type of OSHC product purchased, general treatment (ancillary or extras cover, for example dental, optical or physiotherapy).
If you require general treatment cover, you should contact the OSHC insurer for further information.
Who can purchase OSHC?
People who must take out OSHC are overseas students undertaking formal studies in Australia and their dependents (for example, spouses and children under 18 years old).
For the purposes of OSHC, ‘overseas student’ means:
- a person who is the holder of a student visa; or
- a person who:
- is an applicant for a student visa; and
- is the holder of a bridging visa; and
- was immediately before being granted the bridging visa, the holder of a student visa.
How much does OSHC cost?
The costs associated with OSHC will vary depending on individual insurers and their policies, the type of cover required and the duration. Overseas students are recommended to contact their respective private health insurer for policy related information before commencing OSHC to ensure an appropriate level of cover is chosen. All costs will be in Australian dollars (AUD).
You can transfer to another provider at any time and waiting periods served with your first provider will transfer to your new provider – a cancellation fee may be charged.
If you have a problem with your OSHC insurer you can contact the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) which helps consumers with issues and enquiries.