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International Student Health Care – FAQs

While there’s nothing more exciting than heading to a new country like Australia to study, there are a few things you’ll need to organise. One of those things is your health insurance.

Let’s run through a few of the common questions surrounding healthcare for international students in Australia: 

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the system provided by the Australian Government which gives citizens and most permanent Australian residents free or lower cost medical services.

Can international students access the Medicare system?

Generally speaking international students are not covered under Medicare and will instead need to take out Overseas Student Health Cover, otherwise known as OSHC.

However, there is one exception to this rule – if you’re from Sweden, Belgium or Norway you may be eligible for Medicare cover, due to agreements the Australian Government has with those countries. To check this you can visit the Department of Immigration & Border Protection.

What is Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)?

The name says it all. When you apply for a visa as an international student, in most cases you’ll be required to take out OSHC, which is an insurance designed to help you cover the cost of medical bills in the case you become unwell or injured during your stay.

There are several insurers that offer OSHC including Allianz Global Assistance, BUPA Australia, and Medibank Private. You can take out your insurance directly through their website.

What should I do if I become unwell in Australia?

If you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you require medical attention there are two different options available:

  • General Practitioner: For non-emergency healthcare the best option is usually visiting a General Practitioner (GP). They are doctors who work in both medical centres and private practices who can treat you for things like the common cold or a minor injury.
  • Hospital emergency department: However, if you do find yourself in an emergency situation then you should instead visit your nearest hospital emergency department. In some cases you may feel well enough to make your own way there, but if you do require an ambulance the number in Australia to call is 000.

Whether you visit a GP or hospital, it’s important to remember to take your OSHC card with you – or for Swedish, Belgian or Norwegian students your Medicare card.

Who should I see if I have problems with my teeth?

While OSHC is designed to reduce the cost of any potential medical bills while you’re in Australia, the important thing to keep in mind it doesn’t usually cover dental work. To be covered there are a few options available: travel insurance, extras cover through your OSHC insurer, or an insurance policy through a private health insurer in Australia.

We hope we’ve helped answer some of those questions you’ve had about your healthcare, as an international student in Australia!

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