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  • Writer's pictureEducation and Visa Agency

Overseas Student Health Cover – Here’s everything you need to know 🩺

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

One of the conditions of your student visa is to organise and maintain adequate healthcare for the duration of your time in Australia.

This applies to everyone who is to be included on your student visa*, unless an exception applies.*

It’s important to remember that you can’t just choose any healthcare or travel insurance.

You must choose Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) from an approved Australian health insurance provider.

The 6 approved providers include:

Bupa, Medibank, NIB, CBHS, AHM and Allianz.

But which is best?

Depending on whether you prefer the fullest cover or the most budget option, different providers will be best for your needs.

We always recommend Bupa Advantage to our students as it offers the most coverage (because it covers the most hospitals) with lots of added features and benefits.

When you book through us, it also works out a lot cheaper for couples and family policies than any other provider too!

Bupa Advantage product is only available to chosen providers and not every agency can offer you this product.

But what does OSHC cover?

Before we go into more details about OSHC, let’s first look at the Australian healthcare system.

In Australia, there are 2 main healthcare streams: Public (Medicare) and Private.

The Public system is where healthcare professionals can treat you and then the Australian Government will cover or part-cover your fees. This is only available to Australian citizens, Permanent Residents, and eligible citizens of countries with reciprocal healthcare arrangements. The Private system covers everyone else and many Australians also choose to supplement Medicare with private cover as there tends to be shorter wait time for specialist appointments.

For more information about the Australian Healthcare System, check out this video

Now, back to OSHC

Bupa has the highest level of Hospital & Medical Cover and provides:

  • 100% of MBS* for inpatient medical services

  • 100% of MBS for outpatient medical services

  • No outpatient medical cover exclusions

  • Retail Shops and more than 10,000 Doctors’ network.

  • Bupa Plus benefits - visit - to get see which discounts and benefits you can get with Bupa Plus.

  • Pharmacy benefits - $50 back per script item ($600 yearly limit for singles and $ 1000 yearly for couple/family).

  • Repatriation: Mortal and medical repatriation

  • No waiting period for Mental Health support

  • HPV vaccination – save up to $180 on HPV vaccination

  • 10 free psychology sessions

  • 24 hour student advice line

For more reasons to choose Bupa OSHC, click the link

HELP! How do I find a doctor that I will be covered for with my insurance?

Remember that health care that covers you for 100% MBS, means that you will only be covered for up to what Medicare would cover for an Australian Resident.

Doctors can choose to charge more than MBS for their services. So to make sure you’re not left out-of-pocket, make sure to choose a doctor that offers BULK-BILLING.

When a doctor offers bulk billing, that means that you are likely to be covered for 100% of the services you receive (depending on which OSHC you chose).

Always check with the healthcare professional BEFORE you make an appointment if they charge above MBS or if they are bulk billed.

A quick google search of “bulk billing doctors near me” will usually provide you with a list of these.

If you are with Bupa, you can also click this link:

Another reason we love Bupa is their Medical Gap Scheme.

The Bupa Medical Gap Scheme is all about reducing the medical costs you need to pay for treatment when you're admitted to hospital. If your doctor uses this scheme, you'll never pay more than $500 per doctor.

Each doctor involved in your treatment can choose to use the Bupa Medical Gap Scheme for your admission in a Public Hospital, or a Private Hospital with which Bupa has an agreement.

But what do I have to pay?

You’ll need to pay the difference between what your doctor chooses to charge, and what Bupa pays. The Bupa Medical Gap Scheme reduces or eliminates this difference, or 'gap'.

If your doctor chooses not to use the Bupa Medical Gap Scheme, the doctor can decide what to charge you and you’ll need to pay any 'gap' (or amount above what your provider and Medicare pay) yourself. More details here

How do I use OSHC in Australia?

When seeing a specialist, make sure you go to a clinic that offers direct billing so you can make a claim with your insurance provider. Often, you’ll just need to show your OSHC membership card with photo ID and the bill will be sent to your provider. Other times, you may need to pay the bill and make a claim afterwards.

Our final reason loving Bupa is the myBupa app.

You can download a myBupa app to make your claims and download your membership card to your phone. Super easy!

We love to save you money and help you make the right choice.

Check out the savings you can get with Bupa Advantage compared to other insurers:

Price for 24 months of COUPLE Cover:

Price for 24 months of FAMILY Cover:

Medicare Levy Surcharge

The Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) is a levy paid by Australian tax payers who do not have private hospital cover and who earn above a certain income.

There are many international students employed in Australia, who pay tax on their income throughout the financial year. At EOFY, you can claim back some of the expenses and some of the taxes you aren’t actually required to contribute.

The surcharge is calculated at the rate of 1% to 1.5% of your income for Medicare Levy Surcharge purposes.

International students that holds OSHC and are not entitled to Medicare benefits, can apply for an exemption from paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge - this will help you save about $700 from your tax payments.

The Medicare Entitlement Statement is the form you must fill out to request an exemption from the Medicare Levy.

Waiting periods

A 12 month waiting period may apply if a condition is assessed as pre-existing. That's any ailment, illness or condition, the signs and symptoms of which when assessed by a medical professional, is found to exist 6 months prior to starting a cover.

A 12 month waiting period may also apply on pregnancy and birth services. No waiting periods apply to a newborn provided they have been added to your level of cover within 90 days of their birth.

If you are unsure which cover should you choose - don't hesitate to contact us we can provide assistance with this matter.

Happy Insuring!

The Team and Education & Visa Agency

1. Remember, if you are applying as a couple, you must choose couple’s health insurance. If you’re a family, you must choose family health cover.

You cannot take 2 individual health insurance policies if you are applying as a couple, for example.

2. Exceptions

You do not need to have OSHC if you are:

  • a Norwegian student covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme

  • a Swedish student covered by Kammarkollegiet

  • a Belgian student covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia

3. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (the MBS) is a list of the medical services for which the Australian Government will pay a Medicare rebate, to provide patients with financial assistance towards the costs of their medical services – when Bupa says that they cover 100% of the MBS – that means they cover 100% of what Medicare covers for Australian citizens.

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