Things you should know about Overseas Student Health Cover

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Overseas Student Health Cover

It is a requirement of your visa that you have sufficient health insurance for the duration of your stay in Australia if you are an international student in possession of a temporary student visa. This means that while you are in Australia and in possession of a student visa, you must get Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and maintain the validity of your policy.

The OSHC program will help overseas students pay for any necessary hospital and medical care while they are studying in Australia. OSHC also offers limited medications and ambulance coverage.

If you are a student from Sweden, Norway, or Belgium, some exceptions might be made. If this applies to you, you might be eligible for exceptional provisions under your own national schemes. Speak with the  Department of Home Affairs to learn if you qualify for such provisions and whether you are excused from the necessity to purchase OSHC.

Remember to keep your cover up at all times because having OSHC is a requirement for visas. It’s possible that you won’t be able to make a claim for services you got while you were in arrears if you do fall behind on payments or renewing your insurance.

Inform your insurer as soon as possible if your Medicare eligibility or visa status changes at any moment to determine if your current level of coverage is still appropriate. You lose your eligibility for OSHC when your student visa ends. After that, you can choose between a residents’ plan and an Overseas Visitors Health Cover plan.

Medicare and OSHC

You can also apply for Medicare through the Reciprocal Health Care Agreements between Australia and the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy, or New Zealand if you are in Australia on a student visa from one of those nations. (The accords with Norway, Finland, Malta, and the Republic of Ireland do not apply to students from those nations.)

You will also be eligible for OSHC in addition to any Medicare coverage you are entitled to under a reciprocal health care agreement. You still need to get OSHC even if you have reciprocal access to Medicare.

What does OSHC cover?

OSHC policies help to pay for hospital and medical expenses. Ambulance services are also covered under benefits.

The OSHC Deed specifies the minimum requirements of an OSHC policy. Explanatory Guidelines for the Deed and a One-Page Fact Sheet describing what is covered by the Deed and how OSHC functions are also available from the Department of Health and Aged Care. Please check with your OSHC insurer for more details.

General treatment (also known as ancillary, or extras cover), such as dental, optical, or physiotherapy, is not covered by OSHC. You can enrol in Extras OSHC offered by an OSHC provider or general treatment coverage with any Australian private health insurer if you need coverage for these services. You might also decide to add additional insurance, such as international travel insurance, to OSHC.


OSHC covers illnesses caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), primarily those in the clinical categories of “Lung and chest,” “Kidney and bladder,” and “Dialysis for chronic kidney failure.”

In order to assure continuity of coverage during this time, it is advised that international students who are stuck in Australia owing to required travel restrictions implemented by the Australian Government in response to the global epidemic contact their private health insurer.

It is recommended that international students with student visas who are away from home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) speak with their private health insurer about their choices at this time.

For more information see the Department of Health and Aged Care.


OSHC and Pharmaceuticals

Only restricted pharmaceutical benefits—limited to $50 per pharmaceutical item with a yearly single membership cap of $300 and a family membership cap of $600—apply. If you require pharmaceutical therapy, especially oncology (cancer) treatment, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, you may have large out-of-pocket expenses.

Travelers are allowed to import modest amounts of drugs and medical equipment for personal use as well as bring them into Australia for immediate use. Visit the Entering Australia and Personal Importation Scheme pages of the Therapeutic Goods Administration website for further details.