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Overseas Student Health Cover in Australia

Megan Fraser Updated: 10 January 2022
Types of Health Insurance

OSHC is a life-saving solution for students who need temporary health insurance while they are studying abroad. It provides overseas student health insurance in Australia, so you as a student will be covered should any medical accidents happen. An OSHC policy generally covers the most important medical services and procedures, including emergency ambulances and hospital treatments. 

However, the various health insurance companies and policies can be confusing to navigate, whether you’re a first time overseas student or not. There are a few exceptions to who is required to purchase this type of cover and which visa types need the holder to purchase OSHC. We have therefore compiled this article to help you better understand overseas student health cover in Australia. 

Benefits of Overseas student cover

  • Health cover for overseas students ensures that you’ll be able to access health care should you get ill
  • Guarantees your entry into the country as your visa will generally only be issued if you can prove you have purchased an eligible policy.
  • Typically, easy to purchase and apply for a policy.
  • If you’re from a country with a reciprocal agreement with Australia you may not need to apply for a policy

What is OSHC?

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is usually an affordable and easy to use insurance policy for overseas students. It generally provides emergency medical coverage as well as limited pharmaceutical items. It’s generally required when one applies for an overseas student visa to Australia. This type of cover ensures that you’re able to get access to the treatment you need while limiting the out-of-pocket costs that you’re responsible for.

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How is an overseas student defined in Australia?

An overseas student is defined as a person who holds a student visa and has gained entrance into a university in Australia. It automatically applies to primary and secondary visa holders, both of which are students who must have adequate coverage in order not be financially liable if they become ill or injured while studying abroad. 

These are the visas that one must have in order to be considered as an oversea student: 

Who is exempt from purchasing overseas student health cover

Students are exempt from requiring to purchase OSHC if they were born in some countries that have an agreement with Australia covering their insurance requirements.


The National Insurance Scheme provides affordable health care for residents.


Kammarkollegiet offers a Universal Health Care option that is considered adequate but not universal due to its requirement of coverage being provided by an individual or student visa applicant with other forms of secondary source insurance such as OSHC (Original Swiss Healthcare Company) if they do not hold any form themselves.


There exists a Reciprocal Agreement which ensures the same level of access between citizens from both countries in regards to their healthcare needs – this agreement has been beneficial because it means people don’t have to apply separately so that they can get treatment while visiting family abroad.

Do you still need OSHC if you come from a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

Generally speaking, if you come from a country that holds a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, you will not be required to purchase overseas student health cover. It is also important to note that even if you are under the coverage of Medicare within your country, you will still be required to purchase OSHC within Australia.

Visa types that require OSHC

What is the eligibility criteria?

Australian visas and health care cover policies have extensive rules and regulations. It’s important to know who is eligible to purchase and receive overseas student health cover in Australia. Below are the criteria that enable students to purchase health cover:


Compare overseas student health cover

  • Visits to the Doctor
  • Out of hospital medical treatment
  • In-hospital medical treatment
  • Emergency Ambulance
  • Some prescription medications (medicines prescribed by your doctor in or out of hospital
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Assisted reproductive services
  • Non-Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • High-cost drugs
  • Treatment for services within the waiting periods.
  • Non-admitted hospital psychiatric services
  • Assisted reproductive services
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Stem cell, bone marrow and organ transplant
  • Other services for which a Medicare benefit is not payable.

Are there waiting periods for OSHC?

You can claim benefits for services under your International Health cover right away, but it is important to understand the waiting periods which apply before you do so. There are various waiting periods attached to the different types of medical procedures and services OSHC covers. 

These include:

  • Accidents, emergency ambulance transport: 1 day
  • All other treatments (including pre-existing conditions relating to hospital psychiatric services, rehabilitation and palliative care): 2 months
  • Product upgrades – waiting periods for the services that were not available on your previous product: 2 months
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: 12 months
  • Pregnancy and birth: 12 months

How to get overseas student health cover

To receive an overseas student health cover policy, you’ll need to select a health insurance provider that offers visa health insurance and request a quote and apply. It is recommended that you review and compare multiple health insurance companies and policies to find the policy that best suits your Requirements and budget.

Who offers OSHC?

A wide range of health insurance companies offer overseas health insurance cover for students studying in Australia. In order to gain a student visa to Australia, you are required to obtain an overseas student health insurance policy. Generally speaking, these insurance policies cover ambulance costs, hospital expenses, accommodation, and general practitioners. Below are the main health insurers who offer this policy:

who offers

Overseas Student Health Cover Bupa

This health insurer includes the following benefits:

OSHC Allianz

This health insurer includes the following benefits:

Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover

This health insurer includes the following benefits:

OSHC nib

This health insurer includes the following benefits:

Overseas Student Health Cover ahm

This health insurer includes the following benefits:

How much does OSHC cost in Australia?

The cost of overseas student health cover depends on a few factors. These include the duration of your stay, visa, and, therefore, your health cover policy. The price of cover also depends on your choice of health insurance company and policy, as some companies have a basic and premium policy offered to overseas students. The monthly cost also varies depending on your family dynamic.

How to claim for OSHC

There are usually three ways you can claim back from your medical health insurance provider. You can either utilize the company’s app on your phone and claim back immediately, claim back via the online portal on their website by filling in a form, or physically visit one of the health insurance brokers within one of their buildings, and they will assist you with filling out the claim back form.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can you enter Australia before your OSHC starts?

    You may think that you can just get a student visa without providing proof of overseas health coverage, but this is not true. If your application doesn’t include an active OSHC plan for the duration of stay in Australia it will be rejected and cause many problems down the line with rejecting their visas being one major issue. A person needs to have proof they are covered by some sort or another when trying to enter any country, including Australia. If someone arrives at Australian borders without having sufficient medical insurance, then there could potentially arise all kinds of terrible complications because underfoot immigration laws specify.
  • Can you extend your overseas student health cover?

    Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) can be expensive, so it’s important to ensure you have the right coverage. When your OSHC expires while studying in Australia on a student visa, any medical expenses won’t be covered unless policy-holders extend their coverage by paying for the duration they were uninsured and incurred claims during this period. To extend, just purchase another one – there are no extra costs!
  • Does your OSCH cover you outside of Australia?

    No, your overseas student health cover only begins once you have officially entered the country of Australia. It does not apply for any country that is not Australia and will not be working once you have officially left the country and no longer hold a visa. As a student or visitor to Australia, you must have Overseas Student Health Cover. This ensures that your health is covered if something were to go wrong while studying here in this country.
  • Can you get OSHC for couples?

    Yes, you can receive OSHC for couples. The policies will cover three scenarios: Personal Single Cover; Couples Coverage, and Family. As a single person, you are covered for just yourself with an OSHC policy. For couples, it means both spouses must have coverage under the same plan at all times unless legally separated according to Australian law, which can happen whenever divorce proceedings begin through litigation before courts here locally.
  • Does OSHC pay for dental?

    Yes. Generally speaking, your overseas student health care policy should cover some forms of dental care. However, this depends on which health insurance company you are purchasing your overseas student health care policy from and which level of policy you have decided to take out. Some more basic policy levels only include emergency treatment and therefore do not cover Extras health care treatments such as dental. Always be sure to check the benefits of your policy before making your final choice.
  • Does OSHC cover cancer treatment?

    While this depends on your level of coverage and which health insurance provider you have decided to go with, overseas student health cover generally does not cover any kind of cancer treatment. Under your cover, we will only provide limited benefits for pharmaceuticals that are necessary to treat a medical condition and can be very expensive if you require high-cost drugs – such as those used in oncology (cancer).
  • Can you switch OSCH providers?

    You can transfer to another OSHC insurer at any time if you’re not happy with your current provider. In order to get “visa length cover,” which is required by many institutions in Australia for international students studying there on Study Permit/Australian Visa status and long-term temporary residents such as work visa holders etc., it’s necessary that the policy has been paid fully before arrival, so it is recommended that you are making sure this important step has been taken beforehand through the health insurance providers website or agent when purchasing.

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