What is OSHC?
OSHC is insurance to assist international students meet the costs of medical and hospital care which they may need while in Australia. OSHC will also pay for limited pharmaceuticals and ambulance services.
Do I have to take out OSHC?
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship requires overseas students to maintain OSHC for the duration of time they are in Australia. You will need to buy OSHC before you come to Australia to cover you from when you arrive. You will also need to maintain OSHC throughout your stay in Australia.
As a result of an agreement between the Australian and Norwegian governments, all Norwegian students are provided with adequate health insurance by the Norwegian government and are waived the compulsory OSHC visa requirement.
Swedish students may be waived the compulsory OSHC visa requirement. Swedish student whose insurance is provided by CSN International (the Swedish National Board of Student Aid) will not need to take out OSHC. If you are a Swedish student who is not covered by CSN, you will need to take out OSHC.
Who is eligible for OSHC?
People eligible for OSHC are overseas students undertaking formal studies in Australia and their dependents (for example, spouses and children under 18 years old). For the purposes of OSHC, 'overseas student' means:
- a person who is the holder of a student visa; or a person who:
- is an applicant of a student visa; and is the holder of a bridging visa; and was immediately before being granted the bridging visa, the holder of a student visa.
Which insurers offer OSHC?
- Australian Health Management
- BUPA Australia
- Medibank Private
- OSHC Worldcare
How do I purchase OSHC?
You can purchase OSHC online by visiting the OSHC providers' websites. You retain the right of choice of OSHC provider even where your educational institution makes a specific recommendation because they have negotiated a preferred provider arrangement.
What does OSHC cover?
OSHC provides a safety net for international students. It includes cover for visits to the doctor, some hospital treatment, ambulance cover and limited pharmaceuticals. OSHC includes cover for:
- the benefit amount as listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) 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 (for hospitals that have contractual arrangements with the overseas student's health insurer)
- day surgery accommodation some prosthetic devices limited pharmaceuticals ambulance services.
What is not covered by OSHC?
- High cost pharmaceuticals
Under the OSHC Deed, benefits are paid for 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 need treatment with pharmaceuticals, particularly oncology (cancer) treatment. Other treatments/services not covered under OSHC
- assisted reproduction services, such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment arranged before coming to Australia
- treatment needed while travelling to or from Australia treatment during the first 12 months of membership for pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities
- pregnancy-related services if the length of the visa is for 3 months or less
- transportation of an overseas student or dependent into or out of Australia for any reason
- treatment covered by provisions for compensation and damages.
OSHC does not pay for general treatment (ancillary or extras cover, for example dental, optical or physiotherapy). Overseas students requiring cover for general treatment may take out Extra OSHC provided by an OSHC provider or general treatment cover with any Australian private health insurer.
Overseas students are also free to supplement OSHC with other insurance, such as international travel insurance. If you require Extra OSHC or general treatment cover, you should contact the insurers for further information.
How much does OSHC cost?
The average cost of OSHC is $340 (Australian Dollars) for 12 months single cover (current as at September 2008).
What if I need treatment?
You can choose to visit any general practitioner or go to the outpatients department of a public hospital. If necessary, the doctor will refer you to a specialist for further treatment. If you require hospitalisation, you can choose to be admitted to either a public hospital or a private hospital. Check with your OSHC provider before you are admitted to a private hospital.
How do I pay for treatment?
When you receive a bill for medical treatment, there are generally two choices. You can pay the bill and then get a refund from your health insurer, or the unpaid account can be given directly to your health insurer. For pharmaceutical claims, you need to pay the chemist first and then claim back from your health insurer. Hospital bills are normally sent direct to health insurers for payment. However, arrangements for payment of treatment expenses will vary between health insurers. You should contact your health insurer for further information.
How long do I have to have cover?
The minimum period of cover is 12 months, or the duration of the student visa, whichever is shorter. The maximum period of cover is the length of the student visa. You have the choice of selecting a length of cover greater than the minimum and less than the maximum period of cover. If you have an OSHC policy that expires before the expiration of your student visa, or if you extend the length of your student visa, you must renew your OSHC policy.
What happens if I don't renew my OSHC?
If you don't renew your OSHC you will have to meet the full cost of all hospital and medical treatment which you and your dependents need while you are in Australia. This can be very expensive. In fact, a number of international students who have not renewed their OSHC have experienced significant financial difficulties. If you don't renew your OSHC, you will also be in breach of your student visa conditions.
How do I renew my OSHC?
Renewing your OSHC is easy. You can renew your cover by either contacting the provider of your OSHC or the institution at which you study. If you have allowed your cover to lapse, when you renew your OSHC you will have to back-pay for any period that your were not covered by OSHC. Providers of OSHC will not pay medical costs for periods when you were not covered by OSHC.
Can I transfer to a different OSHC provider?
You can choose to take our OSHC with your institutions provider, or with the Australian OSHC provider of your choice. You may transfer to another OSHC provider at any time, but you may incur a 'refund processing fee' if you transfer midway through a period of cover. If you have paid in advance, you can get a refund. You must provide proof to your previous health insurer that you have a valid OSHC policy with a new health insurer that overlaps the period covered by your previous health insurer. When transferring between health insurers, any periods of membership served with one health insurer will count toward waiting periods with your new health insurer, providing there is no lapse in membership.
Can I take out insurance with an overseas insurer?
No. Private health insurers offering OSHC in Australia are subject to regulatory requirements set by the Private Health Insurance Administration Council. This is because the Australian Government wants to be able to monitor and regulate insurers covering people living temporarily in Australia. The government is not able to protect the interests of people insured by overseas insurance companies in the same way.