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Overseas Visitors Health Cover for Australia

Megan Fraser Updated: 10 January 2022
Types of Health Insurance

The Australian healthcare system can be a bit daunting for visitors. There are many rules and regulations, but it’s important to know your rights, so you’re not caught off guard by an emergency situation while visiting Australia from overseas. 

Most health insurance companies in Australia offer overseas visitors health insurance for tourists. Many provide different levels of coverage, from budget policies to top tiers. When choosing a visitor visa health insurance policy, it’s important to compare and review several plans before making your final choice

Benefits of Overseas Visitors Health Cover

  • Visitor policies cover most medically required hospital admissionsI
  • In-hospital services and procedures are covered
  • You save yourself out-of-pocket costs and the stress of medical accidents when travelling to Australia
  • General Treatment cover can pay benefits for private health care providers, such as dentists

What is Overseas Visitors Health Cover?

Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) is an affordable way to protect yourself from the risks of travel. If you are visiting Australia and do not have access to or prefer private medical care, then this policy will come in handy. Overseas visitors health covers provide peace of mind when exploring Australia by providing basic healthcare services such as consultations at a discounted price through Medicare.

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What does overseas visitor health cover include?

Services and medical treatments covered depends both on your visa and your policy level. Generally speaking, there are three main tiers to choose from. Generally, a basic policy is the most budget-friendly, while a top-level policy is the highest level of coverage a visitor can purchase.


A basic coverage for visitors in Australia covers high-level hospital treatments and services, as well as access to doctors on a daily basis. These services include:


A mid-level visitors policy covers a wide range of in-hospital services. These high-level treatments include procedures within operating theatres, intensive care wards, and accommodation. Other services available may include:


A top visitors health policy provides coverage for most in-hospital services, treatments, and accommodation. This is the highest level of coverage one can purchase when travelling to Australia. Services of top coverage include:

health insurance for vistitors Australia2

Do you need Overseas Visitor health cover?

The Australian government doesn’t require health insurance if you want to visit. For example, when applying for a Visitor Visa (600), proof of private medical coverage won’t generally be required. However, this does depend on which visa application the Department of Immigration and Border Protection requests this information from applicants. 

Some visas require proof of health insurance when visiting Australia. While it is not mandatory to purchase health cover, it is recommended to do so when visiting Australia to avoid out-of-pocket costs if any medical accidents transpire.

The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement

The Australian Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with 11 countries. The aim is to provide quality health care for their residents that mirrors what Australians receive themselves with their Medicare benefits so they can remain healthy as possible while visiting another country.

These countries include:

Overseas visitor health cover compare

CBHS$59.97$95.98 $184.99
Allianz$97.50$164.97 N/A
Medibank$51.00$147.00 N/A
Bupa$53.13$171.05 $261.42
Australian Unity$80.95$126.50 $197.80
HBF$ 112.30$ 115.85N/A
HIF$74.50$123.80 $217.75
NIB$73.48$130.01 N/A

Source: Allianz; Medibank; Bupa; Australian Unity; Choice; HBF; NIB (October 2021)

Overseas Visitor Health Cover no waiting period

For procedures and services that require a waiting period, the amount of time you’ll have to wait will depend on your chosen provider. For example, 12 months for pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy or 6 months if opting for optometry treatment. The good news is that if you take out your policy for visitors here in advance and purchase a plan on arrival as well, there won’t be any waiting periods at all.

Which visitor health insurance in Australia is the best?

There are three types of visitor health insurance: emergency medical coverage, which must be purchased at the point-of-entry to a country; temporary stay plans that cover up to 90 days while you’re visiting but don’t include any type or amount for pre-existing conditions and need quick approval from an embassy/consulate before purchasing them online; permanent resident cards (PIC)s where fees range depending on your nationality.

The best way would be getting quotes from different providers until finding one meeting all of your particular requirements – such as the number of people travelling together, current state(s), planned activities, etc.

health insurance for vistitors Australia

Which tourist visas need health insurance?

You’ll need to know the right visa for your needs. There are several different tourist visas, including:

Having a tourist visa health insurance policy means you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ll be covered for any unforeseen medical treatments during your stay in Australia.

Take note: While private health insurance is not typically compulsory for a Visitor Visa, it is generally mandatory for a Temporary Skills Shortage visa (482) and a Temporary Graduate visa (485).

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

International students undertaking formal studies in Australia need to ensure they have overseas student health cover. This includes medical insurance for visiting the doctor, some hospital treatment and ambulance services, as well as limited pharmaceuticals coverage.

This means that international students coming here on visas or with a permanent residency will require an International Student Health Cover policy from their home country’s provider, which covers them while studying at universities all over this continent. 

Frequently asked questions and answers.

  • How to get temporary health insurance

    If you’d like to find the right overseas visitor’s health insurance policy that best suits your requirements, it’s generally a good idea to compare quotes, benefits, and annual excess limits from a number of different companies. This way, you’ll typically be able to purchase a policy that offers the features and benefits that you need the most, while maintaining a reasonable monthly price.
  • How much does ovhc cost?

    This depends entirely on which visa you hold and what level of coverage you have chosen to purchase. It’s important to note that the price of a travel insurance policy will vary based on your needs. For example, if you’re only travelling abroad with one partner, your policy could be cheaper than if you are looking for coverage for your whole family. It’s important to receive quotes from different providers before making up any mind about which plan is best suited for you.
  • What are the main differences in ovhc insurance?

    Differences in health insurance levels include price, what services and treatments are covered, waiting periods, and the amount of excess you are granted. The main differences are the in-hospital treatments one receives, such as basic medical procedures vs serious treatments. Excess costs per year also differ greatly depending on which coverage you purchase. A basic level of coverage may only grant you an excess of $500, while the top policy can grant you up to $150,000 excess per year.
  • What is a reciprocal healthcare agreement?

    Your reciprocal health care agreement can cover or subsidise some emergency medical costs. This is usually for urgent treatment that cannot wait until you get home, and it’s a great way to save on costly transport fees in addition if not instead of just paying cash upfront! Some agreements also offer coverage against other expenses like medication and specialists who may be required during the course of an illness – so make sure this detail gets covered before signing anything since there are no guarantees what could happen down the road after getting sick without insurance
  • Will I qualify for medicare if I visit Australia?

    Visitors to Australia are responsible for all costs associated with hospital care, medical and para-medical services rendered in the country. Visitors do not have access to Medicare, so they must pay out-of-pocket expenses on anything from medication prescriptions up until private room rentals when lodging in public hospitals; these bills can rack up quickly if you’re not careful. Therefore, it’s recommended to take out some form of medical health insurance for visitors when travelling to Australia
  • Do I have to take ovhc insurance if I travel to Australia?

    If you want to visit Australia, health insurance isn’t typically a necessity. For example, when applying for a Visa (600) or even just living in their country indefinitely without getting sick – proof will not be required of some forms. However, there is one situation where private healthcare coverage might come into play: if your application requires it as part of being granted an Australian visa.
  • Is ovhc worth it in Australia?

    Overseas visitors to Australia are not entitled to Medicare coverage or free public healthcare services. They must purchase these from private providers at their own expense, which can result in significant costs for the treatment they need while visiting this country. To ensure you have peace of mind when visiting Australia and avoid expensive out-of-pocket costs if anything happens to go wrong, it is recommended to purchase even basic health insurance coverage.

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