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If you’re on your way down under to study, one of the requirements of your student 500 visa is that you have adequate health insurance while you’re here. This comes in the form of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Why do you need OSHC?

Outside of OSHC being a requirement for the student 500 visa, you need OSHC to protect yourself from medical costs while you’re in Australia. If you were to wind up in hospital and you don’t have cover, medical treatment can cost upwards of $1,500 per day.

You need to make sure that your OSHC cover begins before you enter Australia and you need to maintain it until you leave the country.

Do all overseas students need OSHC?

There are only a handful of countries whose students are exempt from OSHC, this is due to the fact they have a reciprocal healthcare agreement (RHCA) with Australia. Of the 11 countries with RHCAs with Australia, students from only three countries are exempt from OSHC for their visa requirements and even then, there are some caveats:

  • Students from Belgium do not need OSHC, as the RHCA between Belgium and Australia provides adequate health insurance.
  • Norwegian students do not need OSHC since their National Insurance Scheme provides adequate cover.
  • Swedish students who have health insurance with Kammarkollegiet are not required to have OSHC. However, students will need to be able to provide evidence of coverage when lodging their visa application.

Other students who are exempt from needing to get OSHC include Endeavour Award, defence supported, and foreign affairs students.

What does OSHC cover?

OSHC can provide you with financial protection from a range of medical costs including the following:

  • Visits to the doctor
  • Hospitalisation
  • X-rays
  • Bloodwork
  • Prescriptions
  • Ambulance

Some health funds offer OSHC extras policies if you’re also after cover for benefits such as dental, optical or physiotherapy.

Not coming alone? Don’t worry, your partner is covered too!

If you are travelling to Australia on a student 500 visa with your partner or spouse, they will also need cover. Good news is, you can apply for a couples policy to make sure you’re compliant with the visa requirements.

What won’t your OSHC policy cover?

While you will have cover for a range of medical treatments, OSHC exclusions include the following:

  • Any treatments you sought out and arranged prior to travelling to Australia
  • Assisted reproductive services (ARS) such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
  • Any treatments that are not covered by Medicare
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Non-emergency ambulance services
  • Claims for treatments where the costs are recoverable through compensation

Who offers OSHC policies?

At the time of writing, six health funds provide OSHC policies in Australia.


Health Insurer Insurers website
ahm OSHC
Allianz Global Assistance (Peoplecare Health)
BUPA Australia
CBHS International Health
Medibank Private




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