How To Find The Best Student Health Insurance

Published: July 20, 2017

Whether you’re an Australian student studying locally or live somewhere else, but have decided to continue your education here, you probably know how important it is to be protected from illnesses and injuries.

Student health cover

  • Who needs it
  • Is it mandatory?

Affordable cover

  • AHM
  • Allianz
  • Bupa


  • What’s the best
  • How to purchase
  • Pregnancy & dental

Whatever your needs are, this article will help you find the most affordable student health insurance, one that is suited to your budget and your needs.

Student visa health insurance

If you want to study in Australia and be approved for a study visa, you must have adequate health insurance. The duration of your student visa depends on the program you choose, for example, student visa subclass 500 allows you to stay in Australia to study full-time in a recognised educational institution for up to 5 years.

A temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) allows you to work in Australia temporarily, up to 18 months, after completing your studies. Go to for more information on selecting the right student visa for you.

Understanding student health insurance

Medicare is a tax-funded insurance program providing free treatment in public hospitals to all Australian residents. As the cheapest health insurance in Australia, payments to health professionals are either free or subsidised, depending on the services received.

If you are coming to study in Australia and are looking for private student health insurance, you will need to apply for Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). It is important that the policy you choose should cover you for the entire length that your student visa is valid for.

Why do students need health insurance?

As a student, purchasing health cover while in Australia is a pre-requisite, regardless of whether you are insured back in your home country or not. A penalty fee of 2.5% of your household income or $695 per adult and half of that per child, is charged if you do not have private health insurance

What is OSHC?

OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover) is a cheap international student health insurance that provides a safety net for all medical emergencies. As an international student, Australian Law requires that you have OSHC for as long as you are studying in the country. This ensures your medical, surgical and mental health needs are covered.

Different student types

As a student, you will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Full-time student
  • Part-time student
  • International student
  • Local bursary student
  • Short-term student
  • Long-term student
  • Early to late twenties
  • Older student: 30+ years old

Despite your student type, student health cover is non-negotiable. However, if you are a student from Norway, Belgium or Sweden, OSHC is not a pre-requisite for your visa requirements. This is simply because the Australian, Norwegian and Belgium governments have agreed that the RHCA (Reciprocal Health Care Agreement) between these countries has provided adequate health insurance for their students.

What is Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA)?

The Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) entitles you to limited Medicare benefits, meaning you are exempt from having to purchase OHSC as a pre-entry condition to study in Australia. To qualify for RHCA membership you need to be either from the UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Malta, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Ireland or NZ.

International student health insurance

In addition to OSHC, you might want to consider taking out private health insurance to prove protection for things that OSHC does not cover. Be aware that benefits, membership costs and eligibility can vary a lot between health insurance companies.

Australia has 19 reputable health insurers to choose from: nib, Bupa, HBF, HCF, Allianz and Medibank to name a few. Not only does each of these insurance companies have a long, reliable history, they also all offer services specifically catered toward international students.

Australian companies offering cheap student health insurance

AHM, Bupa Australia, Medibank Private, Allianz Global Assistance and NIB all offer affordable student health cover.

AHM student health insurance

AHM has been providing affordable student health insurance for many years. When you apply for OSHC through AHM, you are provided with access to an interpreter service, a 24-hour helpline for emergency medical assistance and counselling for both stress and trauma.

Allianz student health insurance

Allianz student cover offers you benefits such as:

  • 100% of the MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule) fee for all hospital-related medical services.
  • Both private and public hospital ward accommodation, although the hospital must offer a contracted rate with Australian Health Services Alliance.
  • Surgically implanted prostheses up to the approved amount from the Australian Prostheses list.
  • Emergency Ambulance.
  • 100% Doctors and 85% Specialists fees both in and out of hospital with 85% of the MBS fee or other medical tests.
  • Prescribed medicine benefits (with a cap cover).

Bupa Student Health Cover

Bupa overseas student health insurance provides a comprehensive OSHC Extras policy, which covers: Dental check-ups, physio, chiro and podiatry consultations. This means that you will not have out-of-pocket expenses should you need any of these services.

nib Overseas student health insurance

nib OSHC student health insurance won the 2016 CANSTAR Award for Outstanding Value Overseas Student Health Cover. nib can provide you with your OSHC Confirmation Certificate within 5 minutes of application. Claiming and updating any information is quick and easy when using the nib app.

Medibank International student health insurance

Medibank is a student visa health insurance provider that complements Australia’s Public Health System. With two cover options to choose from, you can be assured that both your student visa requirements and your medical needs will be met.

Medibank Essentials OSHC is the more easily accessible option. It covers you with comprehensive hospital services, up to $600 per policy for pharmaceuticals, unlimited emergency ambulance cover and basic medical needs.

FAQs about health insurance for students

What is the best student cover?

When planning to study in Australia, you will want to find the most affordable student health cover. It might want to also purchase private health insurance in addition to your OSHC. This will greatly improve your health insurance benefits. Medibank, Allianz, AHM, Bupa and nib are all good options for affordable student health insurance in Australia.

How do I purchase my student health insurance policy?

Your Student Health Policy can be purchased online or through your educational institution. Visit any OSHC insurer’s website for online assistance. Alternatively, arrange with your educational institution to help you purchase directly through them. Although they may have a pre-negotiated arrangement with a particular insurer, you still have the right to choose your preferred OSHC provider.

Does student health insurance cover pregnancy?

Yes, student health insurance does cover pregnancy. However, this must comply with one of two conditions. You will either need to be on Essentials OSHC Policy with a student visa of three months or more or only fall pregnant once the 12 month waiting period has ended if you’re on OSHC Standard Cover.

Does student health insurance cover dental?

Yes, student health insurance does cover dental. Dental treatment, optical and physiotherapy are referred to as general treatments. However, your coverage will depend on the type of OSHC offering you have purchased. To find out exactly what general treatment your OSHC covers, carefully read through your documentation.

If you need assistance in your search for the best and most affordable student visa health insurance, it might be worth visiting or a health fund that provides Student Visa  health insurance. 

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Ask an Expert?


  • Lakshmi |

    Hi! I want to know what would be the best medical insurance to take for my daughter who is 17 and starting University in February 2018 and will be living on campus.

    We are permanent residents and were on Medibank private for 4 members: 2 adults 2 children at $411 a month the last 3 yrs. But it’s too expensive. We’re planning to give it up and get separate for health insurance for our daughter. What is a good option for her?

    Also for my husband (60) and myself (51), we thought we take worldwide insurance with AIG as they cover any country, evacuation by helicopter and so on. We are planning to go back and forth between Malaysia and Australia and travel.

    We have Medicare but still, need private health cover for emergencies. Please advice.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Lakshmi.

      It’s great that you are looking to compare health insurance policies to ensure your daughter and the rest of your family is sufficiently protected. Well done.

      A good first step would be to fill in the quote form above after which a health insurance consultant will give you a call. The consultant will then assist you in comparing policies for the whole family.

      To do this comparison and find you the best possible cover at the most affordable price, the consultant will need a bit more information, for example how much cover does each person require, whether you want a combined Hospital and Extras policy and in which state of Australia your daughter will be living, as well as you and your husband when not travelling.

      If you’re not yet ready to speak to a consultant, you might like to review the top 10 private health insurance companies in Australia and see what they have to offer you.