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Accessing healthcare as an international student in Australia

OSHCstudents – How do international students access healthcare in Australia? Overseas Student Health Cover is a compulsory health insurance required for international students studying in Australia. OSHC is an insurance product that basically gives international students a level of insurance coverage that is based on the Australian Medicare system.

There’s so much to consider as an international student — from staying on top of your grades to adapting to a new culture — and your health can be pushed aside as the pressures build up.

The simple task of seeing a doctor can become a huge task, especially if you’re trying to figure out what’s covered by Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), as well as where the nearest medical centre is.

Whether you’re planning to see a doctor soon, or just want to be prepared for when the time comes, here are three ways to stay on top of basic medical costs (excluding emergencies and surgeries) and avoid surprises.

Overseas Student Health Cover will cover some of your expenses

If you’re already in Australia as an international student, chances are you’ll be covered by OSHC. It needs to be purchased for yourself, and anyone traveling with you such as a partner or family, before you can apply for a student visa.

OSHC is a form of health insurance that helps international students meet the costs of basic medical and hospital care during their period of study in Australia. It typically covers visits to a doctor (also known as a General Practitioner or GP), some hospital treatments, ambulance cover, and limited medication. Many universities list their preferred OSHC provider online in their resources for international students.

If you’re not sure what you’re covered for, refer to your policy documents or contact your provider, as what you’re entitled to will depend on the type of cover you’ve purchased (whether it’s standard or includes extras).

Some students may be eligible for Medicare (a government scheme for Australian residents that allows them to access free or subsidised health care), under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.

These include students from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy and New Zealand.

And if you’re extending your visa (for example to complete an additional semester), don’t forget your OSHC will have to be extended too.

If you’re at university, consider on-campus healthcare services. Most universities have on-campus healthcare services for local students, international students, staff and their families.

Search the name of your uni and “health services” to find out exactly what is available on your campus.

Common services may include doctor’s appointments, sexual health assessments, women’s health, travel vaccinations, sports medicine and psychology services.

If you’re worried about the cost, most university websites will also provide information about fees specifically for international students.

You can also call up to find information about services and specific costs.

Depending on your insurer, and the university or school you attend, fees may be charged directly to your OSHC provider or you may need to pay a fee at the end of the consultation and submit a claim afterwards. Most university medical centres recommend bringing your OSHC card to the appointment.

Seeing a doctor off campus if you attend a training school or college
If you don’t have access to a university clinic (or would prefer to go elsewhere), it’s a good idea to search your OSHC insurer’s website using the “Find a Doctor” or “Find a Provider” section.

This can help you identify clinics near you that may bill your insurer directly, meaning there won’t be any out of pocket expenses.

When booking an appointment with a GP, it’s a good idea to ask about what it’ll cost, factoring in your insurance. Prices for medical appointments can vary depending on where you live, and when you need to see a doctor, as can how you’ll be billed at your chosen clinic.

When in doubt, contact your OSHC provider for advice and information on what type of medical appointments are fully covered or partially covered.

Accessing mental health services
To access mental health care, you can visit a GP and share your concerns, and ask for a mental health care plan.

This may result in a recommendation to see a psychologist or specialist.

While this may not be covered by your OSHC in full (again, it’s worth checking with your provider), Study Melbourne recommends viewing any fees as “an investment in your health”.

OSHCstudents (source: ABC)

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Baek Ah Yeon

I trust Allianz Care since it is one of the largest insurance companies in Australia, with the medical centres where I only have to pay for what is left from insurance support. (no need to claim later). Besides, those centres are located at the centre of the city, close to schools. Very convenient, right? Credits to Allianz Care for providing reliable medical centres for health check and treatments.

Baek Ah Yeon | University of Queensland

Ariella Pei

I’ve been living with homestay family for 2 years. I’m now 19, I can move out but I don’t want to leave my host, who has become my family. It feels like I’ve met my second family. Thanks OSHCstudents for sending me to this homestay!

Ariella Pei | University of Canberra

Chatchawat Paton

I realised how important insurance was when I started living in Australia. There I switched to using Allianz Care instead of the previous service. Allianz Care is extraordinarily good in its consulting service and customer care. I’ve learned a lot about Australian health care, also I was consulted with mental issues and how to live a healthy lifestyle. I am very happy now.

Chatchawat Paton | Torrent University

Xiaoyu Cheng

Thanks to Allianz Care, every time I claimed my medical receipts it processed much more quickly and easily than I expected. I was initially a bit concerned since Allianz Care is more expensive than other insurance companies, but now I can ensure that it is totally worth the money.

Xiaoyu Cheng | Monash University

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