What is OSHC?
OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover) is a type of health insurance designed to assist international students so they can meet the cost of the medical treatment, while they are studying in Australia and might need it.
It is mandatory to have the OSHC, as per t he Australian government and all international students (exceptions apply to certain countries) must have their OSHC policy for the duration of their student visas.
It is important to have the right OSHC cover and for the proper duration as your visa depends on getting the dates correct. OSHC mostly pays part or full cost if you visit any doctors, need an ambulance, if you have to go to hospital and be treated as an inpatient or if you need to buy medical related pharmacy medicines.
Primarily, OSHC provides for payments up to the current Medical Benefits Schedule. Essentially, this means that international students receive similar medical cover to Australian residents under their OSHC policies. The cover is base-level cover only however, you can include things like Dental, Optical, Physio which are called Extras in your policy, if you need it.
Is overseas student health insurance a must?
In Australia, there are two streams of medical landscape - one is the Australian Public Health system and another is the Private Health Insurance. Under the Public Health Care, you are provided free of charge treatments and assistance, but is limited to Australians citizens and PR's, and in some cases, other categories who are entitled to be on Medicare. Even though, these days, it is noted that some of the medical practitioners have priced there services above the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS), so there are some 'gap' payments, which might be required to be paid.
In the private system, doctors essentially charge what the market demand and supply decides, and their services is usually better for the amount they charge. Having said that, for the most part, the private health system uses the same facilities as the public health system - in Australia going private is usually a choice related to access to medical personnel, rather than gaining access to medical facilities.
If your family is also coming with you, your spouse (husband or wife) and children must all be covered by OSHC cover. If you decide to come alone, then you don't need the OSHC cover for everyone, however, if they decide to join later, you have to convert your policy from Single to Couples, Single to Family or Couples to Family, as the case may be.
You must have OSHC cover for the whole time you are here on a student visa or bridging visa, and you must prepay for OSHC cover for the length of your visa before you come to Australia. If you extend your visa, you must renew your OSHC policy.
Are there any exceptions to needing an OSHC?
Yes, only for students of certain countries/nationalities. The Australian Department of Immigration advises that you do not need OSHC if you are a:
- Norwegian student covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme
- Swedish student covered by the National Board of Student Aid or by Kammarkollegiet
- Belgian student covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia
These countries have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia, so they will be covered by the Australian public health system (Medicare).
What does OSHC cover?
At a minimum, OSHC policies must cover the following:
- 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.
What is not covered under OSHC?
OSHC policies cannot cover the following expenses:
- expenses incurred before arriving in Australia
- health issued/expenses needed while travelling to or from Australia
- transportation of an overseas student or dependent into or out of Australia for any reason
- Which are covered by provisions for compensation and damages such are Workers Compensation etc.
How to compare OSHC policies?
If you are looking for OSHC (overseas student health insurance), you will need to find the insurance provider that provides outstanding value for international students.
As there are a few providers in the market, it is always better to hunt for the best deals you can get and that is where we can help. By clicking on the link - Get a quote, you will be able to compare and find the best policy (in a comparative columnar chart format) and decide what is best for you. We offer you a space where you can compare features and prices for OSHC student health insurance in Australia on the go and buy your policy online within minutes and get it delivered to your inbox.
Do I have to buy it from the education provider?
Many universities and education providers have a preferred provider deal with a specific insurer. Whilst every student has choice in which OSHC provider they use, we found that many students go with the default option, either because they want the simplest option, or because they were unaware that they had choice.
Firstly, it is important to know that you do have choice with whom you get your OSHC cover from. You are not obliged to use the OSHC provider your educational provider recommends.
If you decide that the OSHC they recommend is too expensive or doesn’t cover what you want, you are welcome to compare and take the policy from a different insurance provider, as long as your cover with them matches the length of your visa. Check the
OSHC end date requirements and you will be fine. Talk to use. We are more than happy to help.
However, some universities have a Preferred provider in which the students get certain benefits like on-campus claim, bulk-billing facility on campus, on-campus representative visits etc. We certainly appreciate that this service is valuable to a new student in Australia and can provide you with the same policy at a discounted price (with a cash-back feature) in the form of Flexi-eGift cards
You could get up to $80 to spend on the things you like. As soon as you buy your OSHC policy online, we will send you the eGift card within 8-10 business days via email.
Can I transfer or change OSHC companies?
You can transfer to a different OSHC insurance company anytime. If you paid in advance for your OHSC cover, you can get a refund, but you may have to pay a ‘refund processing fee’, depending on the insurer you are with currently.
You must buy a new OSHC insurance policy before you apply and get a refund from your previous OSHC provider. This is because you must have a valid OSHC insurance for the entire time you are in Australia on a student visa. If you cancel before switching or issuing another policy, then you will be breaching your visa conditions. Most importantly, you will not have to serve the Waiting Periods again after you change your OSHC providers. We are happy to guide you in this process and will try to make it as easy as it can be, if you like.