Comprehensive Guide to Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) in Australia for International Students

Preparing for an educational adventure in Australia? Navigating through the world of health insurance can be daunting, but we are here to guide you. As an international student, obtaining Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is often a prerequisite to safeguard against unforeseen medical costs during your stay in Australia. 

Note: Certain students from Belgium, Sweden, and Norway, under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA), may be exempt from needing OSHC. However, even if you're exempt, keep in mind that Medicare's coverage may be limited.

Studying in Australia is an exciting prospect, and with adequate health coverage in place, you can focus on what matters most - your education and the experience of living in a vibrant, multicultural society. 

Let's unravel the fundamentals of OSHC. Below we've compiled some of the most frequent questions about Overseas Health Cover.

Study Trekkers OSHC FAQ

OSHC: What Is It?

OSHC is a mandatory health insurance designed specifically for overseas students intending to study in Australia. It's formulated to provide coverage for various medical treatments and hospital expenses.

Why Do I Need OSHC?

Most students travelling on a Subclass 500 Student Visa are required to maintain OSHC throughout their stay. This insurance not only ensures you comply with your visa conditions but also grants peace of mind for your health concerns in Australia. Remember, not maintaining your OSHC could jeopardise your visa status.

What Does OSHC Cover? 

While coverages vary among insurers, a typical OSHC policy often includes:

  • Emergency hospital visits
  • Emergency ambulance transport
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Some costs for prescriptions, x-rays, and pathology

What’s Excluded? 

Basic OSHC policies may not cover services such as:

  • Dental
  • Optical
  • Physiotherapy
  • Elective or cosmetic surgeries
  • IVF
  • Non-emergency ambulance transport

However, additional 'extras cover' can be purchased separately to supplement these needs.

Who’s Covered?

A standard single OSHC policy is typically for the student only. However, dual family policies are available to cover a student and their partner or child. If you're coming with your family, consider family policies tailored for overseas students.

What About Waiting Periods?

Some OSHC policies impose waiting periods for certain services, especially for pre-existing conditions and pregnancy-related treatments. These can vary among policies, so ensure to verify this aspect.

Changing Visas: What Happens to My OSHC?

If your visa status changes (e.g., moving from a Student Visa to a Temporary Graduate Visa), you might need to switch your health insurance policy accordingly. Ensure to keep your health cover active to avoid gaps in coverage.

How Do I Choose the Best OSHC Policy?

Shopping for OSHC before you arrive in Australia can seem challenging. Comparing different policies and consulting with health insurance experts can help you find a policy that best suits your needs.

How do I apply for OSHC in Australia?

You can apply for OSHC online through various Australian health insurance providers. Remember to compare different policies to ensure you choose the best one for your needs.

Can I renew my OSHC if I extend my stay in Australia?

Yes, you can renew or extend your OSHC if you decide to extend your studies in Australia. It's important to maintain continuous coverage to comply with your visa requirements.

What if my dependents are coming to Australia with me? Do they need separate OSHC?

No, they do not need separate OSHC. You can choose a 'family policy' which covers you, your partner, and your dependent children under 18.

What if I have a pre-existing medical condition? Will it be covered by OSHC?

OSHC policies typically have waiting periods for pre-existing conditions. This means you may have to wait a certain period of time before your coverage for these conditions begins. Check the specifics of your policy or consult with your insurance provider for details.

What happens to my OSHC if I switch to a different visa type?

If you switch visa types, you might need to switch your health insurance policy as well. For example, if you move from a student visa to a temporary graduate visa, you would need to switch to an Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) policy.