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What is Australia’s public healthcare system?

OSHCstudents-In Australia, health care is made up of a mixture of services funded by the Australian Government and private health insurance OSHC/OVHC. Australian residents are automatically covered for many hospital and medical costs under the Government’s Medicare scheme, but many Australians choose to take out additional cover through OSHC/OVHC.


Medicare covers areas of medical, hospital, and pharmaceutical costs, but does not cover medical services like private hospital costs, dental, physiotherapy, and similar services, emergency ambulance assistance, or other transport to the hospital.

The benefits you get when you have OSHC or OVHC are similar to the cover Australians get through Medicare.

Read more:

How to access the Australian healthcare system as a foreigner?

Is medical care free for international students in Australia?

What is Medicare?

Medicare is Australia’s health care scheme. The scheme is funded by Australia’s Federal Government and is operated by the various State governments. The system was brought into effect in 1984 and is financed by taxpayers in Australia via the Medicare levy.

How does Medicare work?

If a Medicare-eligible person is admitted to a public (government-run) hospital, Medicare allows them to be treated at the hospital as a public patient at no cost to the patient.

Similarly, if the same person visits a doctor outside the public hospital system, Medicare will usually reimburse 100% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for a general practitioner and 85% of the MBS fee for a specialist.

A doctor may bill Medicare directly (bulk billing) for the exact amount of the MBS fee.  In this case, a patient is not required to pay anything as the cost is fully covered by Medicare. Bulk billing occurs when the doctor accepts the MBS benefit as payment (either 85% or 100% of the MBS fee).

However, some doctors charge more than the MBS fee, which results in an ‘out of pocket’ expense – that is, the patient is required to pay the difference to the doctor at the time they are treated.

How does Medicare relate to OSHC and OVHC?

For international students and visitors who may not be covered under Medicare, you can purchase Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) or Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) depending on your visa type.

If you have a valid OSHC or OVHC policy, you’ll be covered by the cost of medical services during your stay in Australia. Note, there may or may not be an out-of-pocket fee to pay to the Doctor, depending on if they charge the MBS fee or higher. You should always check the amount you will need to pay with the doctor prior to your treatment.

If you are international students, foreigners arriving to Australia, or Australian citizens traveling abroad looking for OSHC, OVHC, travel insurance, please contact OSHCstudents Team at email: info@oshcstudents.com and our partners for further information and assistance.

OSHCstudents (Source: Allianz)

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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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