What is OSHC for International Students?

If you have been doing some research, you may have come across a number of references to OSHC. In this article, we provide a brief overview of what it is, why it is required and what companies offer coverage in Australia.

Australia’s health care system is one of the best in the world. It guarantees Australians access to a wide range of quality health and hospital services at little or no cost. Some foreign countries have reciprocal health care agreements that allow visitors to access Medicare in Australia, however all international students coming to Australia must purchase Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

OSHC covers the costs of hospital and medical treatment, and must be purchased in advance of obtaining a student visa. If a spouse or dependent is coming into Australia on the same visa, it is also mandatory for them to obtain OSHC for the full duration of the visa. Visas are usually granted for an extra two months following course completion, in order to complete all assessment tasks and to have some vacation time. As such, it is important to purchase coverage until your exit date.


There are different levels of coverage, such as bronze, silver and gold (i.e. from basic to more premium cover). The terminology may vary from company to company, but will still reflect the options to get more or less comprehensive coverage. Prices will vary based on getting single, couples or family cover.

An important note for women and families: policies will not cover pregnancies for the first twelve months upon activation. Thus, the medical expenses relating to birth will not be covered until after one year’s time, and there will be no coverage if a pregnancy is already in progress.

Normally OSHC policies have to paid in full, whereas health insurance policies for sponsored visas can be paid monthly. Students can cash in their OSHC policy if they choose to leave the country earlier than the policy’s expiry date.

As mentioned earlier, some countries have reciprocal health care agreements whereby students can access the Australian Medicare system. Please note that any Medicare coverage entitlements will be in addition to OSHC, which is still mandatory for students from those countries. The only exceptions are:

• a Norwegian student covered by the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme
• a Swedish student covered by Kammarkollegiet
• a Belgian student covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia

There are five main providers in Australia: Australian Health Management (AHM), Bupa Australia, Medibank Private, Allianz Global Assistance, and nib. You can choose your provider through your enrolment process with Apidimi.

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