What is OSHC? Overseas Student Health Cover

18 October 2016

If you’re an international student, you cannot access Australia’s publicly-funded healthcare provider, Medicare. However, OSHC can cover you while you stay Down Under.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) there are more than 250,000 applications for student visas lodged in Australia every year. That’s a lot of students who want to experience Australia’s student culture!

But unfortunately, international students cannot access Australia’s universal health care systemMedicare. Therefore, part of the student visa requirements for most students is to buy an overseas student health insurance policy for the duration of their study in Australia.

What is Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)?

Like other health insurance policies, Overseas Student Health insurance (OSHC) is an insurance policy covers the applicant (a student from another country) for a portion of their health-related expenses while they are studying in Australia. It will contribute to the cost of things such as:

  • Ambulance cover

  • General Practitioner visits (a GP is a doctor)

  • Hospital services that are necessary, in-patient services

  • Some pharmacy costs (medicine)

  • Cover for “extras” (for an additional cost) such as dental, optical, physiotherapy, and chiropractic services

For more information on coverage of OSHC, check out this article.

Do you need to have overseas student health insurance?

Yes! Most international students must have overseas student health insurance for the full length of time that they are in Australia – it’s a condition of the visa. Students can either ask their education provider to organise it, or they can organise it themselves from the range of Australian providers who offer it.

Preview our comparison table below to preview a snapshot of the current policies available to the market for a student with a 1 year study visa.

Are there any exceptions to OSHC?

Yes, but only for students of certain nationalities. The Australian Department of Immigration advises that you do not need OSHC if you are a:

  • Norwegian student covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme

  • Swedish student covered by the National Board of Student Aid or by Kammarkollegiet

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


Are all medical costs covered by OSHC?

Not all your medical costs will be covered under overseas student health cover. Many non-necessary (or elective) services will not be covered. For example:

  • Procedures not recognised by Medicare

  • Elective cosmetic surgery

  • Non-emergency ambulance

  • IVF and other assisted reproductive services

What is offered will differ from fund to fund, so it’s important to read the policy document carefully when signing up. You can find out more about what is and isn’t covered here.

Who offers OSHC?

There are several health insurance providers who offer OSHC, including:

If you’re in the market for an OSHC policy, make sure you look at all the options! Otherwise you might end up with a policy or an insurance provider that’s bad enough to complain about!


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