Originally published by Justine Davies, December 20, 2016
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2018) there were more than 70,000 long-term (intended stay of more than one year) overseas visitor arrivals in January 2018 alone, along with another 20,700 arrivals of people intending to move permanently to Australia. For many of these visitors, having an overseas visitors’ health cover policy in place is a great idea.
Unfortunately, most international visitors cannot access Australia’s universal health care system, Medicare. Some countries do have a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia but even so, the level of subsidised medical care can be limited. Overseas Visitors’ Health Cover (OVHC) can help to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of seeking treatment. If you are a Visa 457 or Visa 485 applicant, OVHC is compulsory.
What is Overseas Visitors Health Cover?
- Medically-required hospital admissions
- A portion of doctor’s fees
- Necessary ambulance transport
- Some pharmacy costs
- Cover (for an additional cost) for “extras” such as dental, physiotherapy, optical and chiropractic services
Do you have to have OVHC?
If you are a Visa 457 or Visa 485 applicant, or an overseas student, private health insurance is generally compulsory and the type and level of cover will be specified under your visa requirements. Click here for more information on student cover.
Other visitors are not required to have an insurance policy in place, however it’s important to be aware that medical costs can be well over one thousand dollars per day for admission to a public hospital, making overseas visitors health insurance a prudent choice.
Are there any exceptions for Overseas Visitors Health Insurance?
Residents and citizens of countries which have a reciprocal health agreement with Australia will have some level of subsidised health cover. These countries currently are:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
Are all medical costs covered by OVHC?
Not all your medical costs will be covered under an overseas visitors health cover policy. 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 on an OVHC policy will differ from fund to fund, so it’s important to read the policy document carefully before signing up!
Who offers overseas visitors health cover?
There are several health insurance providers who offer OVHC. Currently, in our database, we have five insurance providers that offer OVHC. You can find out more by visiting the OVHC page. For tips on how to save on an OVHC policy, you can check out this article.