If you ever have done any research about studying in Australia, you must have come across Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). By the term itself, you may have assumed that it must be something related to international student’s health.
This article will help you further understand what exactly Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is.
You will also get answers to your questions such as: Why is OSHC important for international students? How to obtain Overseas Student Health Cover? Who offers OSHC in Australia? What are the advantages of OSHC?
What is Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)?
Every international student on a student visa in Australia must have appropriate health insurance. The Overseas Student Health Cover is a type of health insurance intended to assist international students with their health care needs while in Australia.
If you have decided to study in Australia, OSHC is the prerequisite for your visa application and you should maintain the OSHC policy throughout your stay in Australia.
Advantages of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
International students do not have access to Medicare which is the public health system in Australia. In lack of free or subsidized health care facilities, students may have large out-of-pocket expenses. In most cases, hospital treatment will cost more than 1,000 AUD per day in Australia.
OSHC helps international students cover the costs of medical treatment and services including emergencies. Students can be carefree of the financial burden owing to possible health issues while in Australia.
What are covered by OSHC?
OSHC covers most of the medical expenses but not all.
Most of the OSHC will cover:
- The same hospital treatments that are covered by the Australian public health system
- Accommodation in a shared ward in a private hospital
- Certain prosthetic devices
- Emergency ambulance services
- The same out-of-hospital treatments that are covered by the Australian public health system
- Day surgery accommodation
- Pharmaceuticals (limited to $50 per pharmaceutical item for a single membership to a maximum of $300 a year)
Service and rates offered by OSHC vary with the insurance provider. However, all of the OSHC providers abide by the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). MBS is the health care rate subsidized by the Government of Australia.
Likewise, if you choose to see a doctor or have a test or treatment charging you higher than that catered by MBS, you will have to bear the difference.
Meanwhile, you should be aware that basic OSHC does not provide for dental, optical and physiotherapy treatments. These are available in extra OSHC cover.
It is recommended that you do thorough research on OSHC providers and negotiate for the best policy at a minimal cost.
What is extra OSHC?
As defined by the name, extra OSHC is the extra cover for the non-hospital treatments that are not included in the basic OSHC policy. These extra treatments include dental, optical and physiotherapy.
You will have to pay an extra cost for any extra policy. The services and costs vary depending upon the extra OSHC provider.
Overseas Student Health Cover Australia Cost
OSHC cost depends on the type of cover you choose. Again, single, couples and family cover have different services and rates. The extra OSHC adds to the cost.
The lowest cost of minimum OSHC cover is $452/year for singles cover, $2,332/year for couples cover and $3555/year for family cover (AUD).
Regardless of the cost, you are bound to purchase the OSHC policy if you are travelling to Australia as an international student.
Who offers OSHC in Australia?
OSHC is provided under a Deed of Agreement with the Department of Health by some insurers.
It is a dilemma to choose among the available OSHC policies in the market. You will have to see and compare the policies and the offers of the best benefits at a reasonable price.
OSHC policies are offered by a few licensed health insurers in Australia.
- AHM OSHC
- Allianz Care Australia (Peoplecare)
- BUPA Australia
- CBHS International Health
- Medibank Private
- NIB OSHC
AHM OSHC (Australian Health Management)
OSHC Annual Cost: 487 AUD for singles
AHM OSHC provides health insurance for singles, couples, families and single parents and covers the following:
- Medical cover: 100% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee on GP consultations, 85% of the MBS fees for medical services provided outside of the hospital (eg, specialists, pathology and x-rays) and 100% of the MBS fee for medical services provided when admitted to hospital (e.g. surgeon, anaesthetist etc).
- Hospital cover: Benefits towards hospital accommodation including overnight admissions, same-day admissions, intensive care and theatre fees in a partner private hospital, a non-partner private hospital (lower benefits paid) and a public hospital (shared room only). Also covers emergency ambulance and surgically implanted prostheses.
- Prescription medicines: Pays the difference between the PBS amount and the cost of the item up to $50 per item (limit of $300 per year).
Allianz Care Australia (Peoplecare)
OSHC Annual Cost: 529 AUD for singles
Allianz Care Australia OSHC provides the following cover for international students:
- In-hospital medical services. 100% of the MBS fee for in-hospital medical services, 100% of the OSHC rate (varies by state) for shared-ward public hospital accommodation, same-day services, accident and emergency and outpatient medical and post-operative services and 100% of insurable costs in a contracted private hospital with a minimum of shared-ward accommodation.
- Some Out-of-hospital medical services. 100% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for medical services such as GP visits and 85% of the MBS fee for other services such as specialist visits, pathology and radiology.
- Prescription medication. Pays a benefit for expenses exceeding the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) patient contribution limit up to $50 per prescribed item and up to a maximum annual amount of $300 for singles and $600 for families.
- Surgically implanted prostheses. Allianz Care Australia will pay 100% of the cost of items that appear on the Federal Government's Australian Prostheses list.
OSHC Annual Cost: 568 AUD for singles
- Medical expenses: If your doctor charges you 100% of the MBS fee then you will be fully covered for treatment in hospital and out of the hospital. If your doctor charges more than 100% of the MBS fee, you'll pay the amount above the MBS fee.
- Outpatient Pharmacy: If you're prescribed pharmacy items by a doctor, specialist or when you have visited hospital and not been admitted, you can claim back $50 per approved prescription item, up to $300 (single) or $600 (couple/family) per year.
- Emergency Ambulance Services
CBHS International Health
OSHC Annual Cost: 452.60 AUD for singles
Overseas Students Health Cover (OSHC) provides cover for the cost of
- Consultations from doctors within our network available online or face-to-face.
- Emergency transportation directly to the hospital or on the spot treatment due to accident or emergency.
- Treatment and accommodation when admitted to hospital as an inpatient.
- Benefits for prescription medicine listed on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Schedule
OSHC Annual Cost: 537 AUD for singles
- Services Cover: General Practitioners (Benefits equivalent to 100% of the MBS fee on standard GP consultations); All other medical services provided out of hospital equivalent to published 85% MBS fee (e.g. Specialist, pathology and x-rays); Medical services provided when admitted to hospital equivalent to 100% of the MBS fee (e.g. surgeon, anaesthetist)
- Hospital Cover: All services recognised for Medicare benefit purposes apart from the excluded services
- Students will be responsible for paying any difference between the benefit payment and the hospital charge.
OSHC Annual Cost: 515 AUD for singles
- 100% of the public rate when you go to a public hospital.
- 100% of the bill when you go to a private hospital that has an agreement with nib.
- 100% of the Medicare (public health) fee if you are in hospital and see a doctor, have tests or x-rays done, or see a specialist.
Out of hospital:
- 100% of the Medicare fee if you go to a doctor. You pay the gap if the doctor charges more than Medicare.
- 85% of the Medicare fee for pathology or x-rays.
- They pay for an MRI if you have a referral from a doctor.
- 100% of prosthetic devices on a list approved by the government.
- 100% of ambulance services
At the beginning, these policies and services might be confusing. Once you purchase the appropriate OSHC, it is again important that you check your benefit entitlement with your provider before going to the hospital.
In Australia, “bulk-billing” could be another relief for you if you are able to find a bulk-billing doctor.
Bulk-billing refers to the practice where you don’t have to pay for your visit to the doctor. The health professionals accept the MBS rate as full payment and get paid by the Australian government directly.
If you are bulk-billed, you neither have to pay nor have to get reimbursed from your OSHC provider.
There are two types of bulk billing:
- With co-payment or gap, where the patient only pays the amount above the MBS.
- Full bulk billing, where the patient pays nothing, it is all paid by the Australian government.
Nonetheless, it could be a challenge to find a doctor who bulk-bills. It is important to do some research and make enquiries at local health care centres and look for local bulk-billing doctors and specialists.
Health Cover for Dependants
If you are taking dependant/s or spouses along with you, they will need health cover as well. You will be required to list your dependant or spouse while you are applying for the policy in compliance with the visa requirements.
How to pay for medical treatment with OSHC?
Paying your medical bills is easy with OSHC. You have two options to make the payments for your medical treatment. Either, you can pay the bill yourself and get it reimbursed. Or, you can have the bill sent directly to your OSHC provider for payment.
You can normally pay the pharmaceutical bills and later claim from your provider. In case of hospital bills, they are generally sent directly to the provider.
OSHC providers may also have their own payment arrangements. Therefore, it is wise to check with them prior to proceeding with the payment.
You can submit claims for your OSHC online or send via mail. Just make sure to keep a copy of your paperwork and receipts in case you need them later, whichever way you make the claim.
Transfer or Cancel OSHC
As long as you have Overseas Student Health Cover and you are meeting your visa requirements you can upgrade or switch your OSHC level of cover. Some providers charge a ‘refund processing fee’ if you transfer to a new policy before your old one ends.
You can also change your OSHC provider. But, you can only cancel your OSHC if you leave Australia permanently or start a new OSHC membership with a different provider.
You can as well cancel your OSHC if you finish your course early or withdraw from your studies to return home.
Again, while applying for PSW, you need to have OVHC (Overseas Visitor Health Cover).