Understanding Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC): Essential Information

Discover the significance of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for international students in Australia. Navigate its intricacies for the academic journey.

Published on: Mar 18, 2024

The way a sailor can not direct their ship anywhere in the vast ocean without their compass, similarly you can not illuminate the path of safeguarding one’s health and well-being amidst the foreign shores of Australia without the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Since a lot of us are unfamiliar with the new term OSHC, we will understand and gain in-depth knowledge of the various aspects of the OSHC and its features. You will never want to set back your journey just because of this trivial thing. As an international student in Australia, you're required to have OSHC to ensure access to essential healthcare services throughout your stay. It is essential to have an OSHC cover during your visa application process, you need to maintain your cover all the time. thereby, Understanding the intricacies of OSHC is vital not only for your well-being but also for compliance with visa requirements. 

Whether you’re a prospective student or already enrolled in an Australian institute, this guide is designed to provide you with the knowledge and resources necessary to make the most of your OSHC experience. Hence, dive into the world of Overseas student health cover and empower yourself to safeguard your health and academic pursuits Down under. 


What is OSHC?

A healthcare claim is desired by every individual, staying in any part of the world. This is like a basic necessity that needs to be fulfilled to safeguard life and access the necessary health care services while residing in Australia. Apart from the expenses incurred while applying for the visa and travel costs, an international student is required to save and pay for their OSHC either upfront for the entire duration of their visa or in instalments, depending on the payment options offered by the insurance provider. It is a mandatory requirement set by the Government of Australia for the duration of their visa.  You are bound to cover the payment of this insurance before applying for the visa itself. 

Do not keep yourself in the delusion that these expenses would be covered by the Australian government rather these are your sole expenses and the payment is generally made along with other visa-related expenses during the visa application process or upon enrollment in a university or educational institution.  Failure to maintain valid OSHC cover may shortly result in visa non-compliance or visa cancellation or refusal at the extremes. Therefore, it is the core duty of the student to make sure that they timely pay and be consistent in covering the expenses of OSHC, which is unignorable and indispensable for international students throughout their stay in Australia.


Why is OSHC Essential for International Students in Australia?

Even the minute of the thing in the visa plays a crucial role in determining whether to reject or pass the visa application. Therefore, here as well you should not be lenient and apply for insurance coverage beforehand. Many of us will think that it is vague and increases the burden on a student as they need to bear more expenses for their migration. But it is not how we perceive it to be, rather an initial investment in the insurance cover renders peace of mind and is significant in case of unpredictable medical emergencies. For an international student, OSHC serves as a prerequisite for obtaining an Australian student visa. Your OSHC needs to be supplied by an Australian insurer, one who has an agreement with the Australian Government to do so.

Key Features and Benefits of OSHC:

1. Comprehensive Coverage: The OSHC is not confined to a single medical service; instead it covers a wide range of other medical services, including hospital treatments, doctor consultations, prescription medications, and emergency ambulance services. The expenses would be covered through this and you will be free from utilising your daily income. 

2. Visa Compliance: While you apply for the visa application, the OSHC coverage serves as an unintelligible part through their entire stay in Australia. Ensure that you maintain and update your OSHC coverage to remain compliant with visa requirements imposed by the Australian Department of Home Affairs and enjoy uninterrupted access to education and healthcare services in Australia. 

3. Peace of Mind: The coverage helps the students maintain their peace of mind as they are assured that they are protected against unforeseen medical expenses and emergencies. The assurance provided minimises the stress and uncertainty during the academic journey of a student and firms their focus. 

4. Accessibility: OSHC ensures access to quality healthcare facilities and services across Australia, enabling students to seek timely medical assistance whenever necessary. Your destination doesn’t matter while you access the OSHC coverage, just use it when needed and ensure prompt treatment and timely assistance in any location. 

5. Financial Protection: OSHC mitigates the financial burden associated with unexpected medical expenses such as ambulance services, medical repatriation, and emergency dental treatments. Ensuring that international students can focus on their studies without worrying about healthcare costs. 


What does OSHC cover?

So basically we are now familiar that the OSHC is a medical cover that ensures that the medical services and expenses are insured by the insurance provider, and the student is not burdened to pay the upfront at the time of the service acquired. 

There might be slight differences in the OSHC depending on the insurance provider and the level of plan chosen, but there are certain criteria set by the Australian government for which an overseas student is guaranteed complete security and usage of this cover. Here are the minimum medical services that are availed to a student studying in Australia:


A. Hospital bills

1. Cost of surgery procedures carried by doctors, including anaesthesia and associated costs.
2. In-patient services such as accommodation, meals, and nursing care during hospitalisation. 
3. Accommodation in both public and private hospitals is possible.
4. Shared ward accommodation in a public hospital for an overnight stay, accident and emergency and outpatient medical and post-operative services enclosed. 
5. 100% of the charges for all costs for overnight stays in private hospitals, mandate to have an agreement with your OSHC provider.
6. Diagnostic tests and imaging services such as MRI, CT scans, and ultrasounds are conducted in the hospital.
7. Access to hospital emergency departments for urgent medical care.


B. Medical services

1. Consultations with General practitioners (GP) and 100% coverage of the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) fee. This includes your routine check-ups, illness or minor injuries. 
2. Also, if your GP charges more than your MBS fee then you have to pay it out of your pocket. 85% of the MBS fee for medical services provided by a specialist e.g. x-rays, blood tests and other pathology services.
3. Diagnostic services such as blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, and other imaging studies to aid in diagnosis and treatment planning.
4. Immunizations and vaccinations recommended by healthcare professionals.


C. Prescription medication

1. Only the medicines that are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are covered. 
2. You are eligible to claim up to $50 per approved prescription medicine, up to a total of $300 for single and $600 per family membership per calendar year (1 January to 31 December)
3. The amount is partially borne by the students themselves and the leftover portion is borne through this minimum amount called the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) co-payment fee and Australian residents must pay it too. This amount does vary each year. 


D. Ambulance cost

1. In times of emergency, you are left with instant emergency ambulance transport services to reach the nearest hospital or clinical medical help provider. The cost incurred does come under this coverage. 
2. It does not include situations where things would have been easily handled, For non-medical emergency treatments, the person themself can visit a medical centre or clinic.


Is there something uncovered by OSHC?

Yes, there are obligations to a few medical treatments and services which are unfamiliar to us. Being a package offering a wide range of medical services, there are certain expenses and services neglected under the OSHC policies. A person living in Australia, especially the ones who are international students, must be aware of these exclusions and ensure that they have appropriate coverage for their health needs. The excluded services are as follows:

1. Dental treatment: Dental services such as routine check-ups, cleaning, and other non-acute dental procedures are the least dignified under OSHC. However, there are certain policies which may offer limited coverage for emergency treatment of teeth due to accidents or sudden pain.

2. Optical services: If there is some emergency treatment needed due to an unforeseen accident or other possible eye problems then the cover can be utilised. It does not cover typical cosmetic procedures, vision correction surgeries (e.g., LASIK), and routine eye examinations for prescription glasses or contact lenses. 

3. Pre-existing medical conditions: The insurance excludes the already existing medical conditions, however, if the conditions are severe and need proper and regular check-ups then there are some policies available after a waiting or additional premium payment. 

4. Pregnancy and maternity conditions: If an international student requires a cover to bear pregnancy-related medical expenses then they need to explore alternative healthcare options or consider purchasing additional maternity cover. The cover may include prenatal care, childbirth, and postnatal care, which are generally not covered under OSHC.

5. Elective Cosmetic Surgery: In a world where everything becomes a new trend there is something which has been observed amongst youngsters that they transform their appearance with the help of cosmetic procedures performed for aesthetic purposes, such as plastic surgery, botox injections, or liposuction. Such treatments are typically not covered under OSHC, these services are considered elective and are not deemed medically necessary for the treatment of illnesses or injuries.



There are multiple things to your checklist while you plan to move out of your native country. Things like carrying documents, basic accessories for daily needs, and more can not be forgotten similar to the Overseas Student Health Cover which is essential for covering your medical expenses. As told above, it is a compass to the vast ocean of your stay in Australia. Understanding the intricacies of OSHC is not just advisable; it's essential for your well-being and compliance with visa requirements. From the moment you apply for your visa to the entirety of your stay, maintaining valid OSHC coverage is crucial. It serves as a prerequisite for obtaining an Australian student visa, ensuring access to essential healthcare services throughout your educational journey. Though there are several criteria for which this insurance may not be active; an individual shall look up for some other insurance if they are dealing with other medical conditions which are not mentioned by the Australian government. By embracing OSHC and staying informed about its coverage and limitations, you empower yourself to thrive academically and personally while enjoying the peace of mind that comes with comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Read More

1.  Why Health Education Is Important
Health and Safety Legislation in Western Australia
A Comprehensive Guide to Student Visas for Australia

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