If you are an international student looking to study in Australia, you will most likely need to arrange Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
Health insurance cover is an important safety net to ensure visitors who intend to study Down Under can meet the costs of medical and hospital treatments they may require while in Australia.
Who needs OSHC?
Since July 1, 2010, OSHC has been a legal requirement for most Australian student visas, which must be maintained for their entire time they're studying in Australia.
Exceptions to the OSHC requirements are students arriving from Belgium, Norway and Sweden who already hold insurance within their own country.
For those individuals who are travelling with dependants, OSHC policies will be required by all individuals dependent on the student.
Additionally, if the international student has a child while in Australia, they will need to extend their OSHC policy to include the child by transferring their cover into a family product.
What does OSHC cover?
A basic OSHC policy will cover visits to the doctor, some hospital care, ambulance services and a variety of medications.
While there are a range of OSHC policies available, the minimum requirements for cover include the same level of benefits listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for out-of-hospital medical services and 100 per cent of the MBS fee for in-patient medical services.
Additionally, day surgery and public hospital shared ward accommodation should be covered.
Some prosthetics will also need to be included in a OSHC minimum benefits policy.
For additional benefits, including dental or optical services, students may need to ask providers about more comprehensive private health insurance for visitors.
What is not covered by OSHC?
Each OSHC product is different and may be subject to a number of exclusions, so it important to compare policies and know exactly what is covered.
However, no OSHC policy will provide benefits for treatment that is arranged before coming to Australia or services used while travelling to and from the country.
There may be a waiting period imposed on an OSHC, which means treatment required within 12 months of arrival in Australia may not be covered.
Additionally, treatment for a pre-existing psychiatric condition could be excluded from benefit for two years from the beginning of OSHC membership.
What do I do if I need treatment?
If you require medical treatment while studying in Australia, you should visit your doctor or local hospital as soon as possible.
In a non-emergency situation, take the time to check whether the treatment you require is covered by your OSHC policy to ensure you are not surprised by any out-of-pocket expenses.
Once treatment has been received, you can either pay the bill and seek a refund from you OSHC provider, or send the bill directly to your fund.
How do I purchase OSHC?
Individuals who require an OSHC policy can ask their education provider to arrange cover for them or they may wish to purchase this product independently.
Regardless of whether you hold insurance in your home country, only an Australian registered health fund can offer the required OSHC policies.
Within Australia, there are number of health insurance providers who offer a range of OSHC products, and some policies may cover different benefits than others.
It is therefore important to compare health insurance funds to ensure the cover chosen is adequate.
International students may also want to consider purchasing further private health insurance cover to access those benefits not included in their chosen OSHC product.
For more information on your health cover requirements or a comprehensive health insurance comparison, contact the team at HICA today.
HICA can offer expert advice, an obligation-free quote and in-depth health insurance comparison to ensure you choose the cover that is right for your needs.