Health Insurance is a requirement for most overseas visitors who come to live/work or study in Australia until they become permanent residents. The type of cover required is dependent on the country you are coming from and the type of visa you have. The health insurance required is different from the regular health insurance packages that Australians take out and the type of cover will also be dependent on your visa. You can obtain health insurance from a health insurance provider or travel agent in your country of residence. If you are on a 457 visa then the health cover you need to look out for is called Overseas Vistor Cover.
Please note Most health insurance premiums have ‘waiting periods’ which means that for that ‘waiting period’ – which can be 3/6/12 months you are not covered for some treatments such as pre-existing conditions or pregnancy related services. Be sure to check with your insurer what their policy includes and which ‘waiting periods’ apply to your policy.
What type of Health Cover do I need?
Tourist Visa: If you are visiting Australia on a tourist or ETA visa it is not a requirement of your visa to have health cover. It is recommended that you get health insurance to cover the duration of your stay as you will not be covered by the Australian public health care system unless you are covered by a reciprocal health care agreement. The countries that are allowed access to Medicare benefits are: Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK*. People aged 75 years and over, regardless of passport country, are required to have private health cover.
Working Holiday Visa: Visitors on a working holiday visa are not entitled to Medicare (public health care) unless they are from one of the following countries that have a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia: Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK * . Although private health cover is not mandatory it is recommended as medical treatment in Australia can be expensive.
Working Visa: If you are coming over on a working visa you may be required to take out Overseas Visitors Cover (OVHC). The following countries have a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia and are entitled to utilize the public Medicare health system: Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK*. Health Insurance for these people is optional.
Student Visa: If you are travelling to Australia on a student visa it is a requirement of your visa that you take out Overseas student cover (OSHC). Students from the following countries, which have reciprocal health care agreements with Australia, are also entitled to use the public Medicare health system: Belgium, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK*. Please note; this does not preclude them from having to also take out Overseas student cover.
Investment/Retirement Visa: If you are travelling to Australia on an Investment Retirement visa you must hold private medical coverage for the duration of your stay. The Overseas Visitors Cover (OVHC) is not suitable for this type of visa.
* Residents of the UK, Sweden, Finland and Norway are covered by Medicare for the duration of their stay. Visitors from Belgium, the Netherlands and Slovenia must have their European Health Insurance card to be eligible to enroll in Medicare and are covered up until the cards expiry date or for the length of their stay. Visitors from Malta and Italy must be residents and citizens and will be covered for a period of 6 months from the date of their arrival in Australia.
Permanent residents and Australian citizens:
The Australian Government considers that strong private sector involvement in health services essential to the viability of the Australian health system. For this reason, a 30% subsidy is given to people who take out private health insurance. before the age of 30years old, with additional benefits for those that maintain life long cover. If you take out private health cover over 30 you continue to receive benefits but on a sliding scale dependent on the age you start.
There are two types of health insurance – Hospital Cover which covers the cost of in-hospital treatment by your doctor and other associated costs such as hospital accommodation and theatre fees. Extras Cover provides benefits for ancillary services such as dental, optical and Physiotherapy. With both types of Insurance there are degrees of cover, from Basic to Comprehensive with different restrictions, inclusions and monthly costs.
Tip! It is important to check therapies that are important to you, such as acupuncture or alternate healing, are covered in your Health Insurance Policy.
For more information on Health Insurance requirements by visa type go to www.border.gov.au