Health and Wellbeing
As most of the overseas students study for a long period of time in Australia, it is very important as an overseas student to know how the healthcare system works in Australia.
In Australia, healthcare is publicly funded by Medicare Australia, which means for most of the healthcare issues, Australian won’t have to pay out of pocket expenses. But student visa holders are not entitled to this system and they would need to arrange their own insurances.
What is OSHC (Overseas Students Health Cover)
One of the key requirements of your student visa is to obtain Overseas Students Health Cover (OSHC) before you come to Australia for your studies. It is an insurance designed to cover the needs of the healthcare expenses of international students who are planning to study, live and work in Australia.
Does every student need to have an OSHC (Overseas Students Health Cover)?
It is a requirement of an Australian Immigration that every international student and their family members must have OSHC while they are in Australia on a student visa. However, the students from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy or New Zealand are exempt from this insurance.
You can purchase OSHC yourself or through your education provider or through an agent. There is no harm in shopping around and choosing the best insurance that meets your needs.
All OSHC providers must abide by the deed which sets out the conditions that registered Australian health funds must comply with in order to provide OSHC policies.
Who provides OSHC?
There are only 5 providers of this insurance in Australia and you must purchase OSHC from them only. They are:
What does OSHC cover?
Usually, it would depend on the policy you take but most of the insurances would cover you for:
- Cost of treatment (including hospital expenses)
- Cost of GP and specialists
- Cost of medical drugs (limited)
- Implanted prosthesis
- Ambulance costs
However, these items are usually not covered:
- Cosmetic Surgery
- Extra’s like Dental, Optical and Chiro etc
- Infertility treatments
- Treatment outside Australia
- Compensation treatment
You can always buy private health insurance separately if you would like to cover expenses for additional treatments. If you would like to get detailed information on what’s covered and what’s not in OHSC, check our infographic here.
What to do when you feel sick?
We all have those times when we get sick and would like to see a medical professional. In these times, it is recommended to visit your local medical centre first and ask for an appointment with a GP (General Practitioner). This is usually a less expensive option and you can claim part of a medical visit bill from your health insurance (OSHC). Consultation fees generally range between $40 and $100
When you visit GP, they will guide you through the next steps, if they consider it necessary then they will refer you to the specialist or hospital, if they feel it is not that serious, then they would recommend you to take medication and stay home. For a step by step guide on what to do when you get sick, you can check our infographics on it.
For medication, you would usually need to go to the local pharmacy and buy the prescriptions provided by your GP or specialist. There are a few popular pharmacies that are cheaper than others:
Going to the hospital
In the event of an emergency or life-threatening situation, you should ring 000 and call an ambulance for bringing you to the hospital. You can also call 112 if you are out of mobile network coverage.
In an emergency situation, you can go directly to the emergency department of a hospital where the medical professional will assess your situation. Quite often, hospitals are very busy, so you may have to wait for your turn as more serious patients are addressed first. So you have to be calm and patient!
It is advisable to find out the nearest public hospital and confirm with your OSHC provider on how much hospital expenses will be covered before this kind of event occurs. Public hospitals can charge you a fee for visiting and getting treatment.
If you are not satisfied with your OSHC provider, you can always reach out to Private Health Insurance Ombudsman for help.
As most of the overseas students come to Australia without their family member, it is vital that they look after themselves really well. So here are some tips to stay healthy while you are studying in Australia.
- Drinks lots of water to avoid dehydration
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Learn how to cook food and try to cook your meals at home
- Drink Alcohol in the limit
- Avoid tobacco and drug usage at all times
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough sleep (at least 7-8 hours each night)
- Learn to manage stress