Frequently Asked Questions

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is a health insurance to assist Overseas Students and their dependants to meet the costs of unplanned medical and hospital care which they may need while undertaking formal studies in Australia.

The provision of OSHC for students studying in Australia can only be done by health insurers who have signed the Deed for the Provision of Overseas Student Health Care. The Deed sets out what the insurers must cover, and what they do not have to cover.

Only a small subset of the Australian health insurance market have signed the Deed and are officially able to provide OSHC cover. Currently, the health insurers able to provide OSHC cover are:

  • Australian Health Management OSHC;
  • BUPA Australia;
  • Medibank Private;
  • Alliance Global Assistance OSHC (formerly OSHC Worldcare)
  • NIB

OSHC is a product designed to assist international students meet the costs of medical treatment they may need while studying in Australia. It has been mandated by the Australian government that all international students in Australia, with a few exceptions, must have an OSHC policy for the duration of their Student Visa.

Primarily, OSHC provides for payments up to the current Medical Benefits Schedule. Essentially, this means that international students receive similar medical cover to Australian residents under their OSHC policies. The cover is base-level cover only.

The Australian medical landscape has two streams, public and private. Public healthcare is generally provided free of charge to Australians although more and more medical practitioners are pricing their services above the MBS, meaning a “gap” fee will need to be paid. In the private system, doctors essentially charge what the market will pay. As you would expect, generally service is better in the private health system. Having said that, for the most part, the private health system uses the same facilities as the public health system – in Australia going private is usually a choice related to access to medical personnel, rather than gaining access to medical facilities.

Separate health insurance, over and above OSHC, can be entered into in order to cover the cost of using the private health system. It should be noted that more and more, private health fund rebates do not cover the private medical practitioners’ fees, so there will likely be out of pocket expenses, even with private health insurance on top of OSHC cover.

At a minimum, OSHC policies must cover the following:

  • the benefit amount listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee 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 (only for hospitals that have contractual arrangements with the overseas student’s health insurer)
  • day surgery accommodation
  • some prosthetic devices
  • pharmaceutical benefits 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 do not have appropriate coverage for treatment with pharmaceuticals, particularly oncology (cancer) treatment.

OSHC policies cannot cover the following expenses:

  • arranged before coming to Australia
  • needed while travelling to or from Australia
  • transportation of an overseas student or dependent into or out of Australia for any reason
  • covered by provisions for compensation and damages.

Students must obtain OSHC cover for the duration of their proposed student visa. If you extend your visa, you must renew your OSHC policy

Student Visa Requirement

The Australian Government through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship requires all holders of a Student Visa to maintain OSHC during their stay in Australia.

It is a visa requirement that from 1 July 2010, students must obtain OSHC for the proposed duration of their student visa. If an overseas student extends the length of their student visa, they must renew their OSHC policy.

Condition 8501

Maintaining OSHC is a mandatory condition of a Student Visa. Overseas students who do not maintain their OSHC are at risk of having their visas cancelled.

Peace of mind

Medical treatment can be expensive. Overseas students are not eligible for Medicare (the public health insurance system for Australian Residents). Without access to Medicare, overseas students may have difficulty paying for medical treatment. In most cases, hospital treatment will cost more than $1500 per day.


OSHC includes cover for Coronavirus (COVID-19) related illnesses, principally “Lung and chest”, “Kidney and bladder” and “Dialysis for chronic kidney failure” clinical categories.  International students who are stranded in Australia, due to mandated travel restrictions put in place by the Australian Government in response to the global pandemic, are recommended to contact their private health insurer for further assistance to ensure continuity of cover during this time. For more information see the Department of Health.


If your OSHC cover expires you will not be covered for treatment or services while you are uninsured. You’ll also be in breach of your student visa which could cause a problem if you wish to extend your visa.

Yes, you can get a 100% refund. You’ll need to contact your OSHC provider and show them a copy of the denial letter you received from the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.

You can’t use health insurance from an overseas insurer or use travel insurance to cover your medical expenses while you are here. You must be covered by an Australian-registered private health insurer. This is so that the Australian Government can monitor and regulate insurers covering people who are living in Australia temporarily.

If you have a child after you arrive in Australia, and you only have a couple OSHC policy, you must switch to a family policy. If any family members join you after your arrival in Australia, they will have to demonstrate that they have an OSHC policy for the duration of their visas.

You can transfer or switch between OSHC providers without penalty as long as your cover is up-to-date. If you transfer to another OSHC provider, you will simply need to provide proof of your previous OSHC. You will need to nominate a start date for your new OSHC. This should be the day after your previous OSHC policy expires, to make sure you have “continuous” cover. We can switch you to your preferred OSHC provider today, and assist you with getting a refund from your previous provider.

Plus, your period of membership with another provider will transfer across so you may not need to re-serve any waiting periods as long as there is no lapse in your membership. If you were covered by your previous provider for less than 12 months, you can serve the remainder of the waiting period on your new OSHC provider.

To switch or to arrange transfer from your existing OSHC, please Contact us.

Is your student visa expiring? We make it quick and easy to extend your health cover.

You need overseas student health cover if you choose to remain in Australia as an international student. If you want to extend your student visa, you’ll need to extend your OSHC first.

To renew or to extend from your existing OSHC, please Contact us.

OSHC does not pay for general treatment (ancillary, or extras cover) such as dental, optical or physiotherapy. If you require cover for these treatments, you may take Extras OSHC provided by an OSHC provider or general treatment cover with any Australian private health insurer

Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) is a form of health insurance which is designed for visitors to Australia who do not have access to Australia’s public Medicare system for medical or hospital expenses. OVHC insures against potential expenses you may incur if you require medical or hospital treatment.

In some cases, it may be a condition of your visa to hold a form of OVHC – for example, if you are working visa 482 or 485 applicant or an overseas student.

To purchase an Overseas Visitors Health Cover, please Contact us.