Hand – In – Hand: Australia Visas and Health Covers

Let’s start right from the basics. Why is an Overseas Student or a Visitors Health Cover necessary in Australia? Is it over – hyped? Is it compulsory and why? Can’t we just use Medicare? Is it necessary to extend health cover when we extend our visa?

Let’s take a while and know the answers to the most frequently asked questions when people relate the terms: visa, healthcare, Australia, costly and compulsory.

As many of us know, Australia is one of the few nations that brags about the level of medical facilities it provides to its people and citizens. The public health care system Medicare, covers all doctor charges at public hospitals. It also reimburses as much as 100% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for a general practitioner and 85% of the MBS fee for a specialist. Medicare is not just about fee reimbursement or free treatment, it also encompasses eye tests, surgical procedures by dentists, various undertaken by patients such as X – rays, pathology tests etc.

However, Medicare stays limited to Australia and a few countries Australia has Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements (RHA) with. Subject to various types of visa and policies, Australia has an RHA with countries like Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom.

The healthcare system in Australia is as costly as it is sounds. One day at a hospital in Australia with a private bed and consultations could cost a person as much as $1000

As various types of visas have various health requirements, it becomes important for us to check the requirements as stated by the Department of Home Affairs, Australia. Let’s understand some of them.

  • All student visas, under subclass 500, requires students to have and maintain an OSHC Health Cover during their entire period of stay in Australia. The ONLY exemptions for an OSHC is if students are from Norway, Sweden or Belgium – covered under various agreements. To everyone else, it stands compulsory.
  • Students under Temporary Graduate Visas, under subclass 485, are also mandated to have an adequate health cover (Overseas Visitors Health Insurance) during their stay in Australia. If the applicant hails from the country Australia has a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement (RHA) with, they might be covered under Medicare.
  • For Visitor visas, under subclass 600, are not mandated to possess an Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC)

But insurance once done is done. No need for more, right? No. You may want to think and do things differently.

Sam is studying in Australia and rightfully has an OSHC to save him from medical expenses. For some reason, he now wants to extend his visa application. His friend Bert, is working there and has an OVHC to secure his health. Like Sam, he too wants to extend his working visa.

So, what do they do? Can they extend their visa applications without extending their health insurances? The answer is simple. No, they can’t.

When one renews their student visa or working visa, they also have to renew their OSHC or working visa health cover. They have to have the relevant insurances till the date they wish to stay in Australia.

In Sam’s case, his OSHC policy can be renewed by visiting GetMyPolicy.online, viewing various plans as per his needs and by comparing popular plan providers like Ahm, Allianz Global Assistance, Bupa, Medibank, Nib etc. Also, Bert can renew his working visa health cover and align it with his needs and specifications by comparing various visitors’ insurance providers like Allianz Global Assistance, Australian Unity, Bupa, Iman etc.

Now, they become eligible to renew their visa. But hey, what happens if they forget to renew their health covers?

In Sam’s case, if his student cover expires when in Australia on a student visa, he can still renew his health cover for the rest of his student visa, but will have to pay the premiums for the expired period when he did not have the cover. He will also not be able to claim any benefits during the expired period of his student’s health cover.

A bit different to Sam’s case, if Bert’s visa expires when he’s in Australia on a working visa, his visa will be termed as invalid and he will now have to appear for a new visa. It would have been ideal for him had he renewed the same before the expiry of his existing working visa cover.

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